Posted by: David Gelsthorpe | November 24, 2009

Amazing Polar Bears

Manchester Museum's Polar Bear

As part of my research for the new Mammals Gallery I have been looking at Polar Bears. They are amazing animals that live right across the Arctic Circle around the North Pole. They live at the point where the ice meets water and mostly eat seals. They are covered in a thick layer of transparent hairs and have a layer of blubber up to 10cm thick to keep them warm.

Polar bears are very sensitive to climate change. Over the last few years some of the ice where the polar bears live, has melted. This means it is more difficult for them to hunt seals and it is harder from them to build up enough fat reserves for hibernation in Winter.

Polar bears have more contact with people than they used to. They have to search for food over a wider area and more people live near them. Lots of polar bears live around the town of Churchill in Canada, where tourists go to see them in the wild. Scientists use this as an opportunity to study polar bears and the effects of eco-tourism. The video below shows some of their work.

David Gelsthorpe, Curator of Palaeontology



  1. They are wonderful animals, when I worked at Edinburgh Zoo they had just got a polar bear from Churchill, Canada. She was named Mercedes as the company helped pay for her transfer as far as I remember. I spent a lot of time watching her swim in her pool.
    She had been wandering around the town looking for food and they could not make her stay away. It was ship her out or shoot her. Luckily they shipped her out. She has just left the zoo after 25 years and moved to the Wildlife Park near Aviemore where she has a large enclosure. I hope she has many more years in her new environment.

  2. […] your own polar scene; see our penguin; find out about polar birds from the RSPB; listen to some polar bear storytellling; watch a family friendly film screening; learn about climate change and meet some […]

  3. […] the last couple of months have been focused on research for the new Mammals Gallery. This has been really interesting and promises to transform this part of the museum in the next […]

  4. […] example the current Darwin exhibition and our research for the new mammals […]

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