Random Facts: Polar Bears

The scientific name for the polar bear is Thalarctos maritimus from the Greek arktos, “bear”, and thalassa, “sea”. The word to mean “of or pertaining to the polar bear” is “thalassarctine”.

The earliest known use of the term “polar bear” was in 1781. Before that it was called “white bear”.

Polar bears can run at 25 miles an hour and jump more than six feet in the air.

Adult male polar bears weigh between 770 and 1,300lb (350-590kg). Females weigh half as much.

The latest estimate of the worldwide polar bear population by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature is 28,500.

The first polar bear in Britain arrived in the 13th century as a gift from King Haakon IV of Norway to Henry III. King Henry kept it at the Tower of London and let it swim on the end of a rope in the Thames.

In the 19th century a team of Arctic explorers all died from a vitamin A overdose caused by eating a polar bear’s liver.

Polar bears have 42 teeth, their main diet is seals which they can smell from 20 miles away. Beneath their white coats, polar bear skin is black.

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