Bare Necessities – The King Of The Arctic

They’re fluffy, they’re cute and they’re funny. What am I talking about? The glorious polar bears of course! You know when you’re little people buy you teddy bears knowing that phase will be over when you grow up. Well, for me that phase never actually faded away, and my passion for bears remained intact.

polar bears international

Then, some years ago, while looking for a bear-themed gift I came across Polar Bears International’s website, a fantastic team that works every single day to preserve polar bears’ natural habitat and to ensure as little human contact as possible. Inspired by their work I have become a regular contributor to their cause and they have been so very kind as to answer a few questions for this article.

Polar Bears International

Check out the official website and take a look at all the amazing things they do

What do we really know about polar bears? I bet most people know they’re an endangered species, that human activity and climate change are destroying their home and that they’re white. So I asked PBI to tell me 3 fun facts about polar bears people might not know:

Great question! 1. The polar bear's fur isn't actually white. It just looks that way! Each hair shaft is pigment-free and transparent with a hollow core that scatters and reflects visible light, much like what happens with ice and snow.

2. Polar bears have small, soft bumps on the bottom of their paws called papillae. These grip the ice and keep the bear from slipping. Tufts of fur between the polar bear's toes and footpads help them walk on slippery ice as well.

3. Polar bear cubs are born in snow caves called maternity dens. At birth, they are about 30 to 35 centimeters long and weigh little more than half a kilogram! They are blind, toothless, and covered with short, soft fur. They are completely dependent on their mother for warmth and food.

One amazing thing about PBI is their mission to spread knowledge and awareness as much as possible, an approach that serves indeed a different kind of demographic, a more conscious one that actually understands the cause they’re supporting. Through articles, social media and an educational centre, PBI still find it hard to talk to those who don’t believe science speaks the truth:

We have found that polar bears are a poignant symbol of the impacts of climate change. They are beautiful animals that inspire people to care. We strive to overcome resistance to the science behind human-caused global warming by connecting with the public on shared values, helping people to understand that it's not just polar bears--that climate change affects us all! And, of course, many people care deeply about polar bears and value the beauty of the Arctic ecosystem.

The work of the PBI team does not stop there. In order to support conservation, working closely on the frontline is essential, and this is what an ordinary PBI ordinary day is like:

Our works spans the circumpolar Arctic, with projects ranging from research on polar bear dens to ways to reduce conflict between polar bears and people, a growing problem as the sea ice melts and more polar bears are driven ashore in more places. We address the overarching threat of climate warming and also work to ensure as many polar bears as possible survive in the meantime. Our work takes us to the subzero cold of places like northern Alaska to the snowy mountain slopes of Svalbard. In addition, we are very involved with educational outreach and advocacy, through our website, live Tundra Connections broadcasts, live Polar Bear Cams, social media posts, and media interviews.

Watch live Polar Bear Cams

Watch Tundra Connections

Pretty tough, right? Yeah, while many complain about how hard it is to put plastic in one bin and paper in another, someone else is freezing out there to make sure science will be taken seriously as it should. Especially in times like the ones we’re living, it is astonishing how science looks like an option, something to “believe in” like if it was some sort of magical spell. Well, we all exist thanks to scientific progress, vaccines, pills, antibiotics, etc. and for what concerns me, I will never be afraid of saying so. For those with their head screwed on though, the question is: what else can I do to fight climate change?

To save the sea ice that polar bears rely on, one of the most important things we can do is to TALK about climate change with our friends, family members, and colleagues. And because policy changes are needed to ensure the polar bear's future, it's important to VOTE with the climate in mind, in each and every election, at all levels of government. We can also get involved with community projects, such as adding more bike lanes, supporting a shift to renewable energy, and investing in energy-saving projects.

polar bears international
The lovely stickers PBI sent me before the US election, 2020

Easy peasy: talk and vote. Two basic things we can do as free citizens and that cost us nothing at all. Be conscious, think about the actions you take, the environmental plans of those in charge, you will see every little bit helps, even without looking like a crazy environmental fundamentalist. 

What I find really cool about PBI is their lovely idea of giving the chance to virtually adopt a polar bear, a project that started a while ago, way before it became popular with trees and other animals.

We thought the chance to symbolically adopt a wild polar bear through a plush bear would be a way to connect people's hearts to the cause. We were not the first conservation group to do this but we were certainly one of the earliest. We have also created "eco-adoptions" where people receive a beautiful adoption certificate by email. These have been quite popular, with people around the globe supporting the effort.

Thank you to Polar Bears International for all the good they do and to all those who take environmental issues seriously. There is no need to be a superhero to turn a small action into something great and the sooner we realise we’re all on the same boat, the sooner we might stop rocking it. 

Adopt a Bear

Virtually adopt a bear and help research
ECO-GIFT

Polar Bear Tracker

See where the bears travelling to
REAL TIME

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