Think about a bear.
Can you see that big, ‘beary-scary’ bear?
Bears can be 6 to 8 feet long. (A ‘ruler’ is 1 foot long). Some Brown Bears can weigh up to 1,500 pounds (a black and white spotted milk cow weighs 1,500 pounds, too).
Is your bear all brown, or black, or maybe white. See his strong, thick legs. Look at those sharp teeth. Do you see his big paws and sharp claws? (He does have cute little round eyes and ears).
Is your bear climbing up a tree? Maybe your bear is standing 6 to 8 feet tall on his hind legs!
Now, imagine that he is just a baby bear! But please don’t stay and play with him.
His mother will not be far away. She will not like you to be a friend to her cub.
What Do Bears Eat?
Bears are omnivores. They eat both meat and plants. Bears eat small mammals. Bears can also be happy eating leaves, flowers, berries, nuts, grasses, roots, beetles, fruits, and yes – honey!
With their long, curved claws, they are very good at digging. Bears like to dig up ant beds, termite beds, and insects that live underground.
Bears are good swimmers. Brown bears are good ‘fisher-bears’. They like to eat a kind of fish called salmon. In the spring, salmon swim up fast-running rivers to lay their eggs. This is when Mother bear teaches her cubs how to fish with their claws and teeth.
The Polar Bear is mostly a meat-eater (carnivore). Seals and fish are his favorite food.
The Giant Panda is mostly a plant-eater (herbivore). Bamboo plants are his favorite food.
Where Do Bears Live?
Bears live across the Northern parts of the world. Only one kind of bear lives in South America. But bears do not live in Africa, Australia, or Antarctica.
You will find bears in many different kinds of habitats.
Bears live in woods and forests, mountains and meadows (open fields), in areas around water and on the tundras (open flatlands) of cold Arctic regions.
There Are Eight Kinds of Bears
- Brown Bears live in the Northern parts of the world.
- American Black Bears live in forests and woods from Canada to Mexico.
- The Asian Black Bear lives in tropical forests on the continent of Asia.
- The Spectacled Black Bear is found only in the tropical forests of South America.
- The Sloth Bear in India loves to eat termites and ants and to climb trees.
- Sun Bears are the smallest of the bears. They live in the jungle forests of Asia.
- The black and white Giant Panda bears live in China.
- The white Polar Bear lives in the Arctic. A layer of fat protects him from the cold.
Did You Know?
- Father bear is called a boar.
- Momma bear is called a sow.
- A baby bear is a cub.
- A family is called a sloth of bears.
- Bears can run as fast as 35 miles an hour.
- Dogs, wolves, and foxes are relatives of the bear.
What is Hibernation?
Bears in cold climates go into a kind of hibernation (deep sleep) during the winter. This is because their food supplies are hard to find in the winter.
The body slows down. The heart beats slower. They breathe slower. They are saving their energy.
Before hibernating, bears eat a lot and get fat! This builds up the fat deposits that their body will use while they are inactive. Before hibernating, bears prepare their dens or nests. Females may wake to have babies in hibernation. The cubs will drink mother’s milk and stay in the den until spring.
Fun Fact: Scientists are studying the hibernation habits of bears to see if this unique ability of going into a deep sleep can be applied to astronauts’ sleep habits during long space trips.
Bears of Yesterday
In early times, before men built cities, people of the wilderness found that the bear was helpful in many ways.
The bear was killed only for what humans needed to live. The bear was good for food. The fur and skins were made into blankets, clothes, shoes, rugs, and shelter coverings for homes.
Bears, Today and Tomorrow
All eight species of bear populations are in danger of decreasing. This is due to the 2H’s: Habitat Loss and Hunting.
Here is the Red List of the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature), showing the status of bears in the world:
Vulnerable (VU). Likely to be endangered in the future:
- Sun Bears of Asia
- Black Bears of Asia
- Sloth Bears of India
- Spectacled Bears of South America
- Polar Bears of the Arctic.
Least Concern (LC). Populations decreasing, but stable:
- Brown Bears of the world
- American Black Bears.
Endangered (EN). Populations are next to being threatened with extinction:
- The Giant Panda of China.
Do you have a Teddy Bear? Let your lovable stuffed bear remind you of the real bears of the world.
Print out your certificate that says you want to help bears stay happy and wild!