Out of an Ice Age emerged one of our most majestic creatures — the polar bear. From its brown bear ancestry, the predator evolved to be a master of a harsh and unwelcoming ice kingdom. Intelligent, adaptable and fierce, the polar bear learned how to survive in a place that offers few comforts to any creature. But now that very environment is in flux. And so is the polar bear’s fate.
The Arctic is changing. As temperatures slowly rise and the ice recedes, the shore is getting further away. Food sources that the polar bear have come to rely on are becoming less plentiful. In this changing climate, the polar bear is already showing signs of distress.
While polar bears struggle, opportunistic grizzlies fare well, as they benefit from the melting Arctic’s effects on its ecosystem. While the grizzly moves into newly opened territories, the polar bear can only wait for the freezing of its one-time kingdom. If the changing world proclaims the grizzly the new king of the Arctic, what will become of the polar bear?
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Online content for Arctic Bears was originally posted February 2008.
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Photos for "Overview" and "Bear Intelligence" © Eric Baccega. Photo for "How Grizzlies Evolved into Polar Bears" © Adam Chapman. Photo for "The Melting Arctic's Impact on Its Ecosystem" © Martha Holmes. Photo for "Links and Resources" © Steven Kazlowski. Other images from ARCTIC BEARS.
Thirteen Online is a production of Thirteen/WNET New York's Kravis Multimedia Education Center in New York City. Dan Goldman, Executive Director, thirteen.org. Bob Adleman, Business Manager.