UK’s first polar bear cub in 25 years born in Scotland

January 3, 2018 by  
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25 years have passed since a polar bear was born in Britain – but the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS) just announced some exciting news. The United Kingdom’s only female polar bear Victoria recently gave birth to a cub at Highland Wildlife Park in Scotland. And it’s possible there could be more than one – Head Keeper for carnivores Una Richardson said in a statement , “We first heard promising noises in the week before Christmas and these have now continued into the new year. Because we don’t have sight inside her cubbing box we can’t be sure if Victoria has had more than one cub but we can confirm the birth.” The UK has at least one new animal resident: a baby polar bear! Highland Wildlife Park staff started hearing what the society described as distinct high-pitched sounds from the maternity den, and have now confirmed at least one cub was indeed born. You can listen to the pretty adorable noises in the park’s video below: Related: Watch a little polar bear cub experience snow for the first time RZSS’s statement did caution the first three months are dangerous for the cubs, whether they’re born in captivity or in the wild . The babies are born blind and don’t weigh much more than a guinea pig, so they’re completely dependent on the mother polar bear. Richardson said, “While we are absolutely thrilled, we are not celebrating prematurely as polar bear cubs have a high mortality rate in the first weeks of life due to their undeveloped immune system and the mother’s exaggerated need for privacy, with any disturbance risking the cub being killed or abandoned.” Naturally the park is taking steps to give the baby or babies a chance. Richardson said they’re monitoring Victoria, and her enclosure is closed to the public. Keeper activity will be kept to a minimum too. If all goes well, visitors might be able to glimpse the cub (or cubs) around March. + Royal Zoological Society of Scotland Images via Highland Wildlife Park on Twitter and BIAZA on Twitter

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Video of starving polar bear rips your heart out of your chest

December 12, 2017 by  
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Conservationist Paul Nicklen recorded this devastating video of a polar bear struggling to survive in a warming Arctic. With now-viral footage, which Nicklen describes as so wrenching that “it rips your heart out of your chest,” Nicklen hopes to motivate action to save the bears and their polar climate. If that fails, he hopes to at least document this tragic ecological period. “When scientists say bears are going extinct, I want people to realize what it looks like,” said Nicklen in an interview with National Geographic . “This is what a starving bear looks like.” Polar bears require solid sea ice to hunt its most essential prey, seals . If there is no sea ice, the bears have nothing to stand upon as they hunt for the mostly aquatic mammals. Polar bears are adapted for a food-free season of 3 to 4 months, the period during which the sea ice has historically melted in the Arctic. However, as climate change has extended the ice-free period in the Arctic , polar bears have suffered. Although the bears are not currently considered an endangered species, they are threatened and may slip into endangered status if their population continues to decline. Related: “You had to live it to believe it” – hundreds of polar bears rush to feast on one whale carcass Commentators on Nicklen’s video have questioned why he did not step in to help the starving bear, who spends much of the video desperately searching for something to eat. “Of course, that crossed my mind,” said Nicklen, according to the New York Times . “But it’s not like I walk around with a tranquilizer gun or 400 pounds of seal meat.” Feeding wildlife is also illegal in Canada, where the footage was taken. To effectively save the polar bears, rapid action must be taken to address climate change by shifting to a clean energy economy. Still, even as polar bears suffer an existential threat from melting sea ice, life seems to be finding a way; there are reports of polar-grizzly bear hybrids that have emerged as the two species increasingly share territory. Via New York Times and National Geographic Images via SeaLegacy

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Video of starving polar bear rips your heart out of your chest

Hanoi’s koi cafe has a thriving ecosystem complete with an aquaponic garden

December 12, 2017 by  
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From the outside, this café in Hanoi, Vietnam looks fairly traditional with a tile façade that resembles fish scales and a heavy wood door. But inside hides a thriving garden centered around a koi pond. Farming Architects designed the space as a small, self-contained ecosystem with an indoor waterfall and an aquaponic vegetable garden. The café is nestled in an existing three-story building in Hanoi to which the architects added a steel frame. Its ground floor houses the fish pond filled with colorful koi carp, known as the Japanese national fish. The seating area next to it provides direct views of the water. Customers can also walk around the pond along a stepping stone walkway. Related: Bangkok Residents Turn Abandoned Mall into a Giant Fish Pond The architects included an indoor waterfall flowing down into the pond as a reference to an old Chinese legend according to which if a carp could leap over a waterfall on the Yellow River, called the Dragon Gate, it would be transformed into a dragon and fly away. It also helps oxygenate the water for the fish. The rooftop garden and the pond function as a single ecosystem. Excrements produced by the koi carp are used to create nutrients for the plants growing in the garden on the third floor. Produce grown here is used in preparing the dishes served in the café and helps purify the water that flows back into the aquarium. + Farming Architects Via Dezeen Photos by Nguyen Thai Thach

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Hanoi’s koi cafe has a thriving ecosystem complete with an aquaponic garden

"You had to live it to believe it" – hundreds of polar bears rush to feast on one whale carcass

October 2, 2017 by  
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When a bowhead whale washed ashore at Wrangel Island in Russia , the polar bears were ready. Between 150 and 230 bears gathered to eat the carcass, and tourists captured the experience on camera. As there are around 26,000 of the animals on Earth, almost one percent of the world’s polar bears, according to Gizmodo, assembled for the feast. The polar bears dined on the whale carcass on Wrangel Island. While polar bears feeding on whales may not be that strange, Gizmodo points out what was unique was that so many people were present to witness the event. A tourist ship passed by as the bears were feasting. Related: Snow-free images of Arctic polar bears show the harsh reality of climate change Heritage Expeditions founder Rodney Russ said his group counted more than 150 polar bears, while Wrangel Island State Nature Reserve said conservative estimates put the number of polar bears at more than 230. Bears of all ages and sexes were present. According to a Wrangel Island State Nature Reserve news release, scientists were aboard the tourist ship, and an international scientific group monitoring bear populations in Chukotka – where Wrangel Island is located – and Alaska were told of the event. Russ wrote in a blog post, “You had to live it to believe it, even now there are people pinching themselves to make sure it really happened…there are no words to describe it.” Polar bears aren’t endangered , but are listed as vulnerable , a step below endangered, on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature Red List of Endangered Species . The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) said some populations are stable, some appear to be on the rise, and others are decreasing. The loss of sea ice could seriously impact the animals. WWF said global polar bear numbers could fall 30 percent by 2050. Via Gizmodo , Wrangel Island State Nature Reserve , and Heritage Expeditions Images via A. Gruzdev

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"You had to live it to believe it" – hundreds of polar bears rush to feast on one whale carcass

Polar bears are getting dosed with Prozac to keep them calm in captivity

January 13, 2016 by  
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A visit to the zoo wouldn’t be complete without a stop by the polar bear enclosure. Seeing the majestic creatures padding about and docilely swimming up to kids as they peer through the glass may seem like a wonderful experience for a paying guest – yet these behaviors go against everything polar bears are programmed to do. Social isolation, boredom, and living in an enclosure that’s a fraction of what their normal habitat range would be in the Arctic causes bears and other captive animals to quite literally become mentally ill . So prescribing antidepressants and other medications to zoo animals has become a common practice. One that some zoos don’t want the public to know about. Read the rest of Polar bears are getting dosed with Prozac to keep them calm in captivity

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Photo of frail polar bear illuminates the tragedy unfolding in the arctic

September 17, 2015 by  
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A photo of a sickly and skinny polar bear in Svalbard, Norway has gone viral, as tragedy unfolds in the Arctic. The shocking image of the starving polar bear was shot by photographer Kerstin Langenberger off the Barents Sea on the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard. Unfortunately, this bear is not an isolated exception. “Yes, I have seen bears in good shape – but I have also seen dead and starving polar bears,” Langenberger said on her Facebook page. Read the rest of Photo of frail polar bear illuminates the tragedy unfolding in the arctic

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Polar bear range states agree on groundbreaking protection plan to save the species

September 9, 2015 by  
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Polar bears got a crucial win this week, as the five nations with wild populations of the endangered bears agreed to a 10-year plan  to protect and manage the animals and their habitat. In the “first-ever circumpolar action plan” for wild polar bear survival, according to the World Wildlife Fund , the five so-called polar bear “range states” – Canada, Denmark (Greenland), Norway, Russia, and the U.S. – have committed to a long-term plan to curb the factors that are destroying polar bear habitats and causing populations to decline. Read the rest of Polar bear range states agree on groundbreaking protection plan to save the species

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400-Year-Old Arctic Plants Frozen by Glaciers Come Back From the Dead

August 16, 2015 by  
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A crop of 400-year-old plants that were wiped out by glaciers have come back from the dead, BBC News reports . Researchers exploring the Teardrop Glacier high up in the Canadian Arctic say that the ice has been retreating at a rate of three to four meters every year since 2004, exposing land that has been covered since the Little Ice Age that took place between AD 1550 and AD 1850. While on a recent expedition, the University of Alberta team discovered something that had a “greenish tint.” It turned out to be ancient bryophytes sprouting new growth after 400 years of dormancy! Read the rest of 400-Year-Old Arctic Plants Frozen by Glaciers Come Back From the Dead

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Polar bears are eating dolphins stranded by climate change

June 16, 2015 by  
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Arctic polar bears have been forced to rethink their diet as a result of climate change. No, they aren’t considering vegetarianism to help offset the droughts in other parts of the world. Instead, they have been feasting on frozen white-beaked dolphins who have found themselves trapped in the surrounding ice. This practice was previously unheard of, since this species of dolphin doesn’t usually venture so far north in the Arctic Ocean during the winter or spring months. With fewer seals to hunt, bears in the region are availing themselves of an unexpected source of sustenance. Read the rest of Polar bears are eating dolphins stranded by climate change Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: arctic ocean , Climate Change , global warming , polar bear eats dolphin , polar bears , sea level rising , svalbard islands , white-beaked dolphin

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Polar bears are eating dolphins stranded by climate change

June 16, 2015 by  
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Arctic polar bears have been forced to rethink their diet as a result of climate change. No, they aren’t considering vegetarianism to help offset the droughts in other parts of the world. Instead, they have been feasting on frozen white-beaked dolphins who have found themselves trapped in the surrounding ice. This practice was previously unheard of, since this species of dolphin doesn’t usually venture so far north in the Arctic Ocean during the winter or spring months. With fewer seals to hunt, bears in the region are availing themselves of an unexpected source of sustenance. Read the rest of Polar bears are eating dolphins stranded by climate change Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: arctic ocean , Climate Change , global warming , polar bear eats dolphin , polar bears , sea level rising , svalbard islands , white-beaked dolphin

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