Before I go any further it’s really important you know something. I have to give all credit for this post to our brightly, sprightly and altogether imaginitely boarder. She’s the brains behind this one, and I just know that I would not even be discussing this topic if she hadn’t brought it up. I mean I’m so lost with this one that I’ve actually put the entire blog post under ‘Uncategorised’. That’s how far we’re going off the beaten track today my dear readers, so I hope you’re buckled in and ready for some surreal scenery that can only be found on the ‘path less traveled’.
We often hear of how our education system is failing young people today. That they are entering adulthood unprepared for the grown-up responsibilities they’re expected to take on, that they lack even basic job skills and a solid work ethic. Learned people point to all sorts of reasons why the education system is suffering a systemic failure. Blame NCEA, blame overworked teachers, blame Mark Zuckerberg for inventing Facebook and blame the 70s for introducing permissive parenting. While professionals point, rant and pontificate on how to fix the systemic (ding! that’s twice but who’s counting eh) failure of our education system, they are completely missing the point. There is but one reason why kids are not getting a good education and failing as grown-ups.
They don’t know any polar bear facts.
For too long this nation’s educators have underestimated the value of polar bear facts. Polar bear facts deepen our appreciation for nature, make us a more interesting person, they help us entertain and enthrall others at social gatherings and can even save a life, particularly where it involves a close encounter with one of these beautiful creatures.
So even if you get nothing else out of today, take this one point away with you: By knowing at least one polar bear fact, you will go through life better prepared and be a more mature and well-rounded out individual. I’m going to get you started on this grand educational journey by listing a few polar bear facts below, or life skills as shall call them from now on.
- Polar bear skin is in fact black (yes Ebony you are 100% correct – round one to you) – A polar bear’s skin is actually black. It’s black so it can soak up as much of the sun’s rays as possible. Reflection of the sunlight from the densely packed, almost transparent, hairs makes polar bears seem to be white.
- Polar bears worry about overheating – A polar bear is more in danger of hyperthermia (overheating) then hypothermia (freezing) and will sometimes be seen spreading it hind legs out on the ice to cool down.
- A polar bear’s hair is not transparent – This is a more recent discovery. The hairs are not truly transparent, but contain keratin. Viewed lengthwise you will see polar bear hairs are not transparent (if you can get that close to one).
- They’re big – Male polar bears may grow 10 feet tall and weigh over 1400 pounds (around 600kg). Females reach seven feet and weigh 650 pounds.
- Live fast, die young – In the wild polar bears live up to 25 years (less if they smoke).
- Waterproof – Polar bear fur is oily and water repellent. The hairs don’t mat when wet, allowing them to easily shake off any water, or ice that may have formed, after swimming.
- Paws made for swimming and gripping – Polar bears have wide front paws with slightly webbed toes that help them swim. They paddle with their front feet and steer with their hind feet. Paw pads with rough surfaces help prevent polar bears from slipping up on the ice. Polar bears have been known to swim 100 miles (161 kilometers) at a stretch (or further if being pursued by Japanese scientists).
- Smart hunters – Polar bears primarily eat seals. They often rest silently at a sealâs breathing hole in the ice, waiting for a seal in the water to surface. Boom.
- Oil and polar bears don’t mix – Oil spills can be very dangerous. A bear with oil on its coat cannot regulate its body temperature properly. If the bear eats the oil while grooming it could die.
- Babies at four – Around the age of four or 5 the female polar bear can start having babies. They usually only have two cubs and they have these babies in a cave they’ve dug in a large snow drift. They stay there over winter and come out in spring with the babies. The babies are much smaller than human babies when they’re born (but way cuter). They are the size of a rat and weigh around 500g.
- Arctic dwellers – Polar bears can be found in the Arctic, the U.S. (Alaska), Canada, Russia, Denmark (Greenland), and Norway. There are around 25,000 to 40,000 polar bears roaming the Arctic (hopelessly lost because everything looks the same, or possibly they’re running scared from Sarah Palin).
- Most importantly – Ursus maritimus is the scientific name for a polar bear.
Hopefully you feel a whole lot more prepared for the real world now that you know at least one polar bear fact. Trust me, it will serve you well. Use it as you would a ‘get out of jail free’ card.
On a more sombre note, but sticking with the animal theme, my loyal Shar Pei of 9 years and 2 weeks gave up the good fight the other week. She was a beautifully-natured pet and a great watch dog but she’d done her dash and perhaps the earthquake was the final straw as we came home to her dead in her bed, her poor heart had obviously just given out. It was really heart-breaking but I feel it was for the best, and the other two dogs seem to have settled down since she has shuffled off to the big kennel. As part of my therapy I put together a short slideshow with a song that was made just for her.
So can you add to our list of polar bear facts? Share the knowledge and save our poorly educated kids from failure – of a systemic kind.