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Polar Bears eat seals

Polar bears in the wild eat seals that they catch from the sea ice. But in Scandinavian Wildlife Park, they would much rather a big juicy fish.

More than 90% of a what a wild polar bear eats are seals. Most of these are ringed seals and bearded seals, but it depends on the area the polar bear lives in.

But catching a seal isn’t easy. Seals are lightening fast in the water, and they swim faster than a big clumsy polar bear. The same is true for fish. Therefore, a polar bear has developed a unique way to get something to eat. They will find a seals breathing hole, and then sit down and wait. They can sit like this for hours, and if they’re really lucky suddenly a seal will pop it’s head out of the water to breathe. If that happens, the polar bear will whack the seal on the side of it’s head, with it’s giant front paw. Then dinner is served.

A polar bear needs to catch about 50 seals a year to survive. But because the polar bears are dependent on sea ice to catch seals, the hunting period is limited. They can hunt from November through June/July. This means that a polar bear needs to catch about 1,5 seals pr. week on average, during the hunting season.

When polar bears don’t eat seals

Polar bears will vary the menu from seals sometimes. Big males will, if they’re lucky, be able to catch walrus and beluga whales. Sometimes they will also get lucky and find a whale carcass or other dead animals, which they do not shy away from eating.

At times you will also see polar bears eat lichen, berries and bird eggs. It would be tempting to think, that polar bears would be able to get by on these alternative food sources, if the sea ice disappears for good. Unfortunately, it’s not possible for polar bear to get enough sustenance to survive, without eating the fatty seals, which they catch from the sea ice.

The polar bears in Scandinavian Wildlife Park don’t like seals

In Scandinavian Wildlife Park the polar bears are more picky than their wild counterparts. Polar bears in the wild don’t have the luxury of choice, when it comes to food. But our polar bears have gotten used to a varied menu, and have therefore become a tad picky. The one time we tried feeding them seals, wasn’t a success. None of the polar bears would even touch the seals.

The polar bears here eat mostly cow heart, cow fat and fish. They also have a sweet tooth, and love to eat lots of apples. They even love a single raisin placed on their tongue through the bars.