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March 2012
Signs of Spring
A Window into the Polar Bear's World
Guest Post: Polar Bears with a Brogue?
Arctic Species of the Month
Spring Greening


Classroom Kit


We receive so many requests for fundraising ideas that we've created special kits for classroom, birthday party, or general fundraising. They supply everything you need for silent auctions, raffles, and door prizes.



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A warm welcome to 

Poseidon Arctic Voyages, one of PBI's newest sponsors. 


Led by scientists and naturalists,

they offer expeditions to the North Pole, the Arctic, Antarctica, and the Russian Far East and also support arctic research efforts.



New 250 Adopt

Bring a little Irish charm into your

home through a symbolic adoption

of a polar bear. Your generosity will help support our efforts on behalf of wild bears worldwide.

Brigham Young University
Tom Smith

Subzero temperatures. Snow so cold you can cut it into blocks. Exposed flesh that burns painfully from mere seconds of exposure--it's all

in a day's work for Dr. Tom Smith,

who leads our polar bear maternal den study on Alaska's North Slope.


Tom's research focuses on the behavior of polar bear mothers and cubs at den sites: when they emerge in spring, how long they stay near the den before heading for the sea ice, and how sensitive they are to human activities.


You can meet him in April in our special Tundra Connections broadcast on mothers and cubs.  

Mom and Cub Video

Well-fed--as in very fat--

female polar bears are essential

to the success of future generations of polar bears. Dr. Tom Smith explains why in this short video.

March Flickr Photo

This image from our Flickr group by Stuart Dawson highlights the polar bear's powerful claws, which can measure more than two inches long. They not only help the bears grip the ice, but are sharp and strong enough to grab seals and haul them out of their breathing holes.

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Signs of Spring


Sunlight has returned to the Far North after months of darkness, but an arctic spring doesn't bring green. Instead, when polar bear families depart from their dens in March or April, they venture into a vast white world. 

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Spring for a polar bear may mean snow, ice, and cold, but it also means seals, especially plump seal pups in snow caves on the sea ice. For a mother polar bear who hasn't eaten for four to eight months--depending on where in the Arctic she lives--seal pups are an easy catch and a quick calorie boost. And mother bears need that boost for their own survival and that of their cubs.


A research team led by Dr. Tom Smith in partnership with Polar Bears International and Brigham Young University arrived on the North Slope late last month to prepare for gathering data on this critical time period in a polar bear's life.   |more
A Window into the Polar Bear's World


Tundra Con IconCurious about our maternal den fieldwork? We've scheduled two special Tundra Connections® broadcasts April 18th with a focus on mothers and cubs. The first is for grades K-5 from 11:00-11:30 a.m. CDT; the second is for a general audience and older students (grades 6-12) from 12-12:45 p.m. CT. Follow this link at the appropriate time to meet our field researchers and ask questions. 
Guest Post: Polar Bears with a Brogue?
By Dr. Andrew Derocher
Derocher 2


We know polar bears have a close ancestor in the grizzly bear, but just which grizzly bear has always been the question. In the past, it was assumed these grizzlies (or brown bears) lived in Siberia. A study published last year suggested the ancestors were from Alaska. But stop the presses: a new genetic analysis suggests that polar bears interbred with Irish grizzly bears--and that the modern polar bear has strong links to Ireland!   |more

Arctic Species of the Month:

Bearded Seal

Bearded SealIn December we featured the ringed seal, the polar bear's main prey. Ringed seals are abundant in the Arctic and just the right size for even young polar bears to catch.


Bearded seals are much larger--so super-sized that only adult male polar bears hunt them. But the pups of both species make easy prey during the spring feasting season.


Scientists are worried, though, that earlier ice break-up in the spring is shortening the time that polar bears are able to hunt young seals and replenish their fat reserves. Changes from a warming climate, including early spring rains that cause seal lairs to collapse, pose the biggest threat to seal populations.


Photographer Daniel J. Cox captured this image as part of the Arctic Documentary Project.

Spring Greening . . .

A big tip of the shovel to the American Zoo Keepers Association (AAZK) for its spirited fundraising competition to raise money to plant trees in our Polar Bear Forest®. This year, keepers exceeded their goal of $25,000, coming in with a grand total of $26,395.21!
It was a tight race, with leading chapters changing almost daily and the final margin less than $17.00. But at final count, Milwaukee County Zoo AAZK Chapter came in first, with Brookfield AAZK Chapter close behind. Every dollar raised will help plant trees--and will also help involve the public in community action projects.


Planting trees and vegetable gardens and supporting farmer's markets are all part of the recipe for a sustainable world. Join us on St. Patrick's Day by wearing--and  planting--your green.


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us do our work. Give as a GIFT or in
HONOR or MEMORY of someone special. Or, add us to your monthly budget with an ENDURING PLEDGE.

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We thank you for your continued support.


Conservation through research, education,

and stewardship 



Bearded Seal, Mom and Cub Photo, 

Daniel J. Cox;

Flickr Photo of the Month, Stuart Dawson;

Dr. Andrew Derocher courtesy of Andrew Derocher;

Tom Smith, BJ Kirschhoffer

© 2012 Polar Bears International. All Rights Reserved.


Marks and text appearing in this newsletter including, but not limited to,  

Polar Bears International name, logo, and programs are trademarks,

registered trademarks, or service marks of Polar Bears International.

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