Adorable bears

Polar Bear Research at San Diego Zoo


The USGS conducts research on polar bears and has documented declines in their population. Survival rates and body size.

To better understand how sea ice decline in the Arctic affects polar bears, USGS scientists are using accelerometers to gather data about the energy needed for the bears to hunt for food.

The scientists use accelerometers to track the polar bear movements like a Wii-fit video game controller tracks yours.

Since the accelerometer data are cryptic, USGS scientists are using captive bears in zoos to understand what the data mean. Researchers did Geological Survey at the San Diego Zoo collecting accelerometer data from their adult female polar bear Tatiq.

And so the keepers here at the San Diego Zoo have been training Tatiq to wear a collar for the last four months and slowly getting her acclimated to the collar. And so now she’s able to wear the collar for about three hours a day without any issues. She’s totally comfortable wearing the collar and she doesn’t seem phased at all wearing it. And so researchers did videotaping her while she’s wearing this accelerometer collar to calibrate the accelerometer data.

Basically trying to understand what the accelerometer data looks like for different behaviors. So when Tatiq’s walking, what the accelerometer data looks like compared to when she’s swimming versus resting versus eating, with the intent of actually applying that information to accelerometer data we’recollecting from wild bears.

Researchers attached accelerometers to their GPS collars that they were deploying on wild polar bears in the Arctic. So this study should help them get a better understanding of how polar bears are responding to declines in sea ice and what the actual implications are for survival, body condition and then start to look at how future forecasts for declines might impact polar bears in the future.

Why Polar Bears Don’t Hibernate?


I know this sounds real dumb, but Polar Bears are bears, right? So why don’t they hibernate in the winter? Howdy kids, Trace here with the bear necessities for DNews! Polar bears live in the Arctic Circle, which might cause you to assume it’s the long days which keep these fuzzy areas from enjoying a long winter’s nap, but science believes otherwise.

Hibernation is a strange business; it’s not the same as sleeping. Science is still figuring out how to properly define hibernation — as all animals do it a little differently.

Hibernation is a way to conserve energy during the months of the year when food for some animals grows scarce.
Bears, groundhogs, and chipmunks jump to mind first, but some fish, reptiles, birds and bats also experience in some way.
During hibernation, breathing and heart rate slow, metabolism plummets and body temperature follow that trend too.
It’s sort of like a natural state of suspended animation! Hibernating animals are going through physiological changes, whereas sleeping animals are maintaining normal physiology, but changing their mental state.
It’s very difficult to wake up a hibernating animal, and doing so takes SO much energy it wouldn’t go back under again.
Seriously, the arctic ground squirrel’s body temperature gets so low. The neurons of its brain are incapable of firing.
Bears aren’t “true hibernators,” because they are done to shut down like that — but they don’t need food or water all winter, which is a mark of hibernation as well.
And they don’t poop or pee.
Not even once.
Polar bears don’t hibernate, but the femalesCAN go 240 days without food.
During this time, they commonly lose around 1.7 pounds per day (0.77 kg) and birth cubs.
They escape the harsh winter by building hollow in the snow.

Meanwhile, the males hunt or stalk seals and other prey, in what is called “walking hibernation,” meaning their body temperature remains normal, but their metabolic rate slows down.

A study in Genome Biology and Evolution compared the genetic code of hibernating brown and black bears to that of the now-hibernating polar bears to find out how they can do that without curling up to sleep.

Within the DNA, researchers discovered polar bears have genes which ramp up nitric oxide production.
Nitric oxide tells the polar bear’s body to stop breaking down fat into energy, and instead convert it directly to heat in a process called adaptive or non-shivering thermogenesis.

Polar bear s have a thermostat to keep them warm and help conserve energy in response to their current diet or environment.

For the record, Panda bears, sun bears, sloth bears of Asia and spectacled bears of South America also do not hibernate — mainly, like with the polar bear — because there’s no season lack of food.

Sorry brown and black bears.

Go sleep it off.
What’s your favorite bear? Polar? Panda? Bear-o-dactyl?!Please leave a comment below.