As far as the eye can see the Arctic region is white with snow and ice. The cold temperatures make it impossible for most animals to survive. This is the home of the biggest bear in the world, the giant Polar Bear. It calls the planet’s coldest environment its playground and its thick coat of insulated fur is a necessity. The fur covers a layer of fat that helps keep warmth inside. Even the paws on the bottoms of its feet have fur to protect them from the icy cold temperatures. Its stark white fur helps provide cover in this blizzard white tundra of ice and snow.
Kazah had given birth to the twins almost two years ago but she was still watching over them. It was her duty to see that they learned how to hunt and survive on their own. She had driven away Zorah the father of the cubs to prevent him from killing them.
“Mom! Watch us swim. We can do pretty well now dog paddling. I think we have finally got the hang of this thing. Now all we need to learn is how to sneak up on a seal.” Pooh laughed as his webbed feet paddled along in the water.
“Well if you would stop talking so much maybe you could use your ears and nose more!” Sooh his twin cub snapped. She was annoyed with her brother’s splashing around.
“Remember cubs we are looking for rodents called Lemmings, and birds called Ptarmigans. We will start with the small animals first and then progress to the seals. I want to be sure you can catch a Lemming first. They are small but fast. Let’s see how you do with these for a few days. I will catch a seal for us today but I want you to practice smelling out our prey. Is that clear Pooh?” She roared loudly.
“Oh goody we are having seal tonight. I just can’t wait. My stomach is as empty as can be. The hunger pains are getting worse and worse.” Pooh exclaimed as he pulled himself up out of the freezing water.
“Keep in mind that Lemmings are like big rats and they have two toes that have large claws. They use these claws to dig down into the snow and bury themselves. A good Polar bear uses his sense of smell and sniffs them out. I’ll show you how to do it.” Kazah stood upon her massive hind legs and lifted her head into the air. She turned her head from side to side sniffing the air.
“Follow me and watch carefully!” She commanded firmly.
Her huge body lumbered along through the snow, stopped suddenly and began digging. Her strong hands swept through the snow easily and her sharp claws pulled out a snow white Lemming.
“See this! Now this is how you do it. I want the two of you to practice around her while I go get us some dinner. This is only a snack.” She said handing the Lemming to Sooh.
“Don’t wander off because I’ve seen brown bear in this area!” She instructed. It was her duty to catch a large seal so everyone could be fed. “I will only be gone a few minutes so you keep practicing.” Her loud voice roared into the cold wind and she disappeared behind a mountain of snow.
The two cubs stood on their hind legs and sniffed into the air. Their noses turned this way and that hoping to catch the smell of food. Suddenly Pooh took off running as fast as his legs could carry him.
“Wait! Where are you going?” His sister called.
Pooh did not answer but kept running. Sooh did not know whether to follow him or remain where her mother had told her to stay. Her eyes moved across the white snow searching for her brother. Then she heard an ear piercing scream that sent chills down her back.
“Pooh! Where are you?” She called. There was no answer. Fear rushed over her young body. She knew something dreadful had happened but she also knew she had to listen to her mother’s last words.
She began to dig into the snowbank hoping to hide should something come near. Silence was important for her own protection now.
“Well here is dinner!” Kazah huffed as she came dragging the body of a freshly caught seal. “Where is everyone?” She called as her eyes combed the area.
“Mom! I’m over here!” Sooh whispered softly. “Something has happened to Pooh. He went chasing a bird or something and I heard him scream. Then everything became quiet.”
“Oh my goodness! Let me go take a look. You stay here.” She panted quite furious with her son.
As Kazah rounded the bend her eyes caught the glimpse of a brown bear and he had Pooh in his mouth. She knew it was too late because the brown bear was taking Pooh to its den. Her eyes filled with water as she remembered his laugh. Now she had to be more careful than ever because the brown bears knew there were cubs in the area and might return.
As the night fell over the icey tundra, Kazah and Sooh cuddled inside their den. They had eaten all they needed for the day and would now sleep. Tomorrow would be another day and the cycle of life would continue in this remote habitat of the giant Polar Bears. All was quiet except the sound of the wind as it swept across the frozen Arctic ring of life.
The Ice Pack region would awake and another day would begin soon. The Arctic Seals would play, the Lemmings would burrow, Ptarmigans would continue to escape the claws of the hawks, and the Polar Bears would continue to dominate the land.
Question: How do Polar Bears swim?
Written by Sybil Shearin
All Rights Reserved