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NYC - Bronx - Bronx Zoo: Polar Bear

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NYC - Bronx - Bronx Zoo: Polar Bear
endangered species of animals
Image by wallyg
The polar bear (Ursus maritimus), also known as the white bear, northern bear, sea bear, ice bear or nanuq in some Inuit languages, is a species of bear that is native to the Arctic and the apex predator within its range. Its thick blubber and fur insulate it against the cold. Its fur, commonly mistaken as white or cream-colored due to the way light refracts within each hair, is translucent, providing camouflage from its prey. The bear has a short tail and small ears that help reduce heat loss, as well as a relatively small head and long, tapered body to streamline it for swimming. The polar bear is a semi-aquatic marine mammal that depends mainly upon the pack ice and the marine food web for survival. It has uniquely adapted for life on a combination of land, sea, and ice and is now dependent on this combination. Scientists and climatologists believe that the projected decreases in the polar sea ice due to global warming will have a significant negative impact or even lead to extinction of this species within this century.

Polar bears rank with the Kodiak bear as among the largest living land carnivores. Most adult males weigh 300-600 kg (660-1320 lbs) and measure 2.4-3.0 m (7.9-10.0 ft) in length. Adult females are roughly half the size of males and normally weigh 150-300 kg (330-660 lbs), measuring 1.9-2.1 m (6.25-7 ft).

The Bronx Zoo, located within the Bronx Park, is the largest metropolitan zoo in the United States, comprising 265 acres of parklands and naturalistic habitats and home to over 4,000 animals. Focused on conservation, it opened on November 8, 1899, with 22 exhibits, 843 animals. The zoo's origins date back to 1895, with the establishment of the New york Zoological Society (NYZS), renamed Wild Conservation Scoiety (WCS) in 1993. Only the outer structure of the World of Reptiles remains much as it was in 1899. With the 1941 opening of African Plains, the Bronx Zoo was one of the first U.S. zoos to move away from cages and exhibit animals in naturalistic habitats.

Clouded leopards born at the National Zoo's Conservation and Research Center
endangered species of animals
Image by Smithsonian's National Zoo
Day-old clouded leopard cub during one of its feedings, which occur every three hours.

Born at the National Zoo's Conservation and Research Center in Front Royal, Va on Tuesday, March 24, the two cubs are the first to be born at the Center in 16 years.

Breeding clouded leopards in captivity has been a challenge, primarily due to male aggression, decreased breeding activity between paired animals, and high cub mortality.

The National Zoo's team has learned how to reduce the risk of fatal attacks by hand-rearing cubs for socialization and also introducing males to their mates when they are six months old, allowing the pair to grow up together.

Clouded leopards Hannibal and Jao Chu, the parents of these cubs and the only compatible pair of clouded leopards at CRC, are proof that these techniques work. The new cubs are being hand-reared by experienced CRC staff.

Photo Credit: Mehgan Murphy/ Smithsonian's National Zoo

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