Wildlife Fact Sheets

Polar Bear

polar bear

Polar Bear

Ursus maritimus

  • Life Span
    25 to 30 years
  • Habitat
    I rely on sturdy pack ice for hunting, denning and mating.
  • Range
    Throughout the Arctic region, including Alaska, Russia, Canada, Greenland and Norway.
  • Preferred Food
    I’m a carnivore and feed almost exclusively on ringed and bearded seals.


You can find me exclusively in the icy climate of the Arctic. It’s really cold up here. (Winter temperatures regularly plunge to below -30°F!) Thankfully, my protective outer fur coat paired with an undercoat and dense layer of fat help me stay warm. Although my fur appears white, it’s actually transparent. My hollow hair shafts reflect light much like ice does, making me appear white or yellow. Beneath my thick coats, I have black skin that better absorbs the sun’s warmth.

I spend a ton of my time hunting for food. Almost half of my time is spent looking for things to eat, and I sometimes have to travel really, really far. Only two percent of my hunts are actually successful, so I have to be persistent! I even heard of one polar bear who went on a nonstop nine-day, 426-mile swim to find some food. That’s about the same as swimming from Washington, D.C. to Detroit!

Did You Know?

I can swim up to six miles per hour. To put that in perspective, Michael Phelps clocks in around 3.92 miles per hour. Side note: Where can I sign up for the next Olympics?

Status and Conservation

Not to brag, but bears are considered by biologists to be among the smartest animals in North America, especially because we can perform complex tasks. I’m a very smart and patient hunter, and sometimes I have to wait for hours above a seal’s breathing hole in the ice, waiting for the seal so I can eat him.

We polar bears are not just crafty hunters; we are also quite playful, and will wrestle with fellow bear “friends” and slide repeatedly downhill on ice for fun. It’s not all fun and games though—play is an important part of our cubs’ development and helps them practice skills they will later use to hunt and protect themselves.

Fast Facts


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