Started in 2006 by the United States Congress, Endangered Species Day sets aside the third Friday in May to recognize the importance of endangered species and is an occasion to educate the public on how to protect them. This year, Endangered Species Day falls on May 18th. In the weeks leading up to Endangered Species Day, we're putting a spotlight on a few endangered and threatened species for you to learn more about what makes them unique. And there's still time to enter the Endangered Species Day Youth Art Contest!
Today is International Polar Bear Day! Join us in celebrating this unique symbol of the Arctic.
Photo: Scott Schliebe/USFWS
A symbol of the Arctic, the polar bear is at home on ice covered seas in Alaska, Canada, Greenland, Norway, and Russia. Measuring up to 9 feet long and weighing as much as 1,400 pounds, this carnivore hunts primarily for ringed and bearded seals.
Adapted to its environment, the polar bear has white fur, water-repellent guard hairs, dense underfur, black skin to absorb heat, and large paddle-like feet with tiny bumps on the pads for traction on ice. Loss of Arctic sea ice, which provides access to its prey, is a threat. The species was listed as threatened on May 15, 2008.