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September 29, 2016 46 mins

Polar bears are more than just lovable creatures that roam the ice in search of food. They're one of the most fascinating animals on planet Earth. Sadly, as ice shrinks, so does their habitat. Learn all about these huggable beasts in today's episode.

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Episode Transcript

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Speaker 1 (00:01):
Welcome to Stuff you Should Know from House Stuff Works
dot com. Hey, and welcome to the podcast. I'm Josh Clark.
There's Charles W. Chuck Chuck Bryant scratching out a significant
amount of this article. Like literally as we started recording.

(00:24):
That's important stuff. There's like numbers and dates and weights,
anders and that that's that's important stuff you to scratched out.
I feel like it's all covered in the body of
the text of the article, though, well, I mean that's
one way to do an intro. Is anybody in journalism
can tell you you can write the article and then
go back and summarize that it's an intro. I've never

(00:47):
been partial of that. The intro to me is just
like this stream of consciousness. It tells you where the
rest of the article is going to go because you
don't know, man, because it's all jazz baby. Uh yeah.
Polar bears polar bears another polar bear club. Although they

(01:10):
may have clubs, they're one of the least studied mammal
populations on the planet. Because it's cold, no one wants
to go hang out and watch them, yeah, pretty much,
and because it's also extremely dangerous to to study polar
bears up close and personal. Yeah, they look cuddly, um,
but they will, especially New they will. Yeah remember New. Yeah,

(01:30):
I got a little bit about New. Very sad. But
you're gonna say they look cute and cuddly, but don't
leave us hanging. Well, you go up to hug one
like you want to, and you get your face eating.
Oh yeah, if you're lucky, that's all that happens. You know.
I saw pictures of a guy who um survived a
polar bear attack. Oh my goodness. Yeah, he was messed up,

(01:54):
like I guess. It was still attach, but three orders
of his scalp was now flipped back able like there's
a whole clear through his achilles tendon and his ankle
so like as a chillers tendon was intact, and then
the front at the top of his the front of
his ankle was intact, but in between the two was gone.

(02:18):
That could have been a claw, poke or a fang. Yeah,
it could have been like flicking it with its thumb
and middle finger. Very strong. It's one of nature's cruelest
things to make an animal so huggable, so deadly. So yeah,
you know, if you're if you hug up polar bears
bad news. It's like one of those black widows that
marry and kill. Right, Well, that's just my interpretation of

(02:44):
polar bears. And you mean the ursus maritimus. Yeah, and
maritimes is uh, it's a legitimate thing to call it
because technically a polar bear is a sea animal, a
sea mammal, because they spend most of their time actually
on the sea, that's right, and in the sea sometimes,

(03:06):
as we'll find out. Um, well, I guess we're knee
deep in this thing. Huh yeah, because you skip the intro.
Uh So the polar bear what they think? Um? And
I enjoy our animal casts a lot. And there's some
of my favorite ones. I just wanted to say that
although the polar bear doesn't despite its hug ability, doesn't
compete with the jellyfish or the octopus. Um, but it's

(03:30):
up there. Sure it is because you can hug at jellyfish,
you know, I than an octopus. That's a great hug. Yeah,
eight times as good, I guess four times is good. Yeah, alright,
so the polar bear two times is good? Polar bear
has four? No, I'm as a human hug uh So
Jerry even like that one. Um, So the polar bear evolved,

(03:55):
as best as we know, a couple of hundred thousand
years ago from the brown bear. Actually, I saw the
scientific consensus between five million and six hundred thousand years
really because I saw the two all over the place.
Did you really Yeah, but it might be one of
those you know how the internet is, like I think
Science Magazine used the term scientific consensus. Oh wow, so

(04:19):
I was like, there down the gauntlet. Uh, well let's
just say let's go with a scientific consensus, um, and
not our own article on our own website. But they
did evolve from the brown bear, uh, they think, and um,

(04:39):
one of the ways that they backed this up is
by saying, polar bear can go have sex with a
brown bear and they can make a baby bear, and
that bear can actually have babies, which means everything jibs.
Do you remember? I think it was our evolution in
Isolation episode that was a good one where we talked
about speciation events and we talked about this how the

(05:01):
how the brown bear just kept ranging further and further north,
and as as they're kind of habitat changed, they actually
evolved too into a different species. The polar bear yeah,
I remember that now, but I remember a species or
a speciation event taking place when the two groups could

(05:22):
no longer reproduce. That was my memory of it, But
I guess not because I went back in double check.
Memberies like, polar bears are different species, but it can.
It can reproduce with brown bears. And it does make
sense because humans and Neanderthals or neanderthals if you're a
pet ant um could could reproduce and have fertile offspring,

(05:43):
and they are definitely two different species of humans, right, Yeah,
they were. Well, you know, occasionally people get together and
have a few drinks and science is created, you know. Yeah. Yeah,
uh so there are way more um brown bears, everyone knows.
And we're gonna talk a lot about this. That the

(06:05):
polar bear. I'm not sure the official designation. I don't
think it's officially listed. Well, it depends on where you are, yeah,
as the official listings is threatened or you know, the like,
it depends on the country it's in. Yeah, but they are,
they're not doing great. There's only about twenty five polar
bears and uh their habitat is shrinking, literally physically shrinking. Yeah,

(06:28):
that's the big problem is that the the melting of
Arctic sea ice, as we'll see as the Arctic sea
ice is where they live. They live on ice floating
out in the Arctic ocean, um, and they don't like
to be on land. When they are on land, it's
a problem for them. So the decrease in Arctic sea

(06:49):
ice that's going on because the climate change um is
affecting them tremendously and affecting the rest of the ecosystem.
But yeah, definitely because um say, like if they get
stranded on land, they start hunting on like for land mammals,
which affects the ecosystem, and that now their competition that's

(07:10):
not normally there for for prey exactly. You know, there's
all sorts of ripple effects that are coming out of it.
But one thing I did see is that the the
polar bears that are really really far north are actually
benefiting from the melting um ice because it's easier for
them to hunt now, oh, because there is just less

(07:32):
area to cover. Um it's the ice is thinner. Oh,
so they can hunt more easily on interesting Yeah, uh,
well it's a good thing you said north, because you're
not gonna find polar bears, but the South Pole where
Santa lives and penguins. Santa lives at the north North
Pole with the polar bears. That's right. We've all seen

(07:53):
the Coca Cola commercials. Yeah, but that has penguins in it. Yeah,
the penguins and polar bears would never meet. Yeah, that's true.
Is that maybe at a zoo? Yeah, that is true.
They had polar bears at the San Diego Zoo. There's
a polar bear in China in a mall in China
that has a zoo, and it is one of the

(08:14):
saddest things I've ever heard of. I signed a petition
last night to free it. His name is Pizza and
it is It's the pizza the polar bear. It's the
it's the saddest. I think it's build as the saddest
polar bear on the planet. Man, it's so sad. Look
into it. Chuck outside. Yeah, I guarantee you will. And
you know what, I bet we could get a lot

(08:36):
of people to sign that petition. We'll see if it matters.
The petitions matter. Do they make a difference. Ah. I
think if they're accompanied with the right like press, like
media pressure, right or like a mafia thug right to
deliver the papers. I got a petition for you. I

(08:58):
highly recommend you read it. Uh. So, polar bears do
live only in the northern Hemisphere. Those twenty five thousand
are in nineteen distinct populations, uh, in five just five countries,
including the United States. Yeah. It's funny because their habitat
is at the top of the world where five countries

(09:18):
basically come together. Well, Alaska, yeah, that's the U. S Part.
Canada obviously. I think two thirds of all polar bears
actually live in Canada, even though if you asked him that,
they wouldn't be able to tell you. Russia is another
big one. Norway. Ye, in Greenland, that is correct. Uh.

(09:38):
And it is tough living up there for humans, but
not for polar bears. They love it. They're well adapted
over the years. Just supposedly, if they run for any
bit of time, they have to like stop and lay
down because they'll overheat and they will exhaust themselves. Yeah.
Identified a lot when I was reading this with polar

(10:01):
bear like, I kind of like these guys. They are
incredibly well adapted. Um, which is another reason why I
think they don't think it's any less than six hundred
thousand years that they evolved from brown bears, because it
would it would take so long for these just they're
really different from brown bears. Like brown bears are basically herbivores,

(10:21):
polar bears are carnivores. They eat seal blubber like brown
bears eat berries in the occasional human on accident, maybe,
but polar bears are like, give me some steals, I
want them. I bet they would eat some berries if
someone offered them up for dessert maybe, but there are
no berries, you know. But it would take a lot
because they get kind of big, and they need a

(10:42):
lot of fat to ward off the cold. Well, yeah,
and they have a lot of it. They have two
layers of fur and then blubber, full blubber layer that's
about four and a half inches thick of just blubbery. Supposedly,
like of their weight at any given time or when
they're fully um developed or nourished, is a blubber was

(11:04):
their own fat. Since you mentioned the weight, we'll go
ahead and throw some stats out. Adult males eight or
nine feet Yeah, apparently that's the biggest bear. The polar
bear is the biggest of the bears from what I understand,
not the Bear and Steain bears ben Stein. Adult females

(11:25):
six to eight feet and the males weigh up to
thirteen hundred pounds nine pounds. Yeah, that's that's intimidating. It
is you've seen lost. I haven't this article mentioned it though,
of course, because it was probably written. When these stats
are accurate, the females can get up to about seven

(11:47):
hundred pounds. Those claws I mentioned about two inches, and um,
they live about twenty years. Um. Yeah, I was surprised
by that. That's really short. Twenty years. Sure, I didn't
think that was too for a bear. Oh, I thought
it was very short. What do you think it's a
good bear span for your lifespan, like forty or fifty years. Yeah,

(12:09):
that's what I want to see for a bear. Yeah,
well we all do. Let's be honest. Twenty years. It's
just like live fast, die young type age, you know.
So their paws, which we mentioned the claws, they have
these big, beautiful, fat, round paws that act like snowshoes,
and they walk and they spread out when they walk

(12:31):
on the on the ice and sort of distribute their
weight and in fact when they're on thin ice, they
even spread their arms out wider. It's very cute. Uh.
And they have these little uh papilla on their bottom
paws is old nubs because ice is slippery, and they
the front paws are actually slightly webbed for swimming. It's amazing. So,

(12:54):
like you said, it's it's a sea bear. It is
the Maritimus or some mary time is. So let's let's
talk about some of its, like actual habits and the
things it does after a break. You want to Yes, hey,

(13:25):
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(14:11):
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(14:38):
you mentioned their fur, right, so you know their furs translucent.
That's right, they're not. It's not about that. Another episode
at some point, probably the Evolving Isolation one or maybe
Translucent or by or the butterflies wings one. What is
I can't remember what it's called iridescent iridescent. That was

(15:00):
a really interesting episode two. Um, but yeah, they're there there.
Um fur is Actually it's translucent because it's hollow, and
it's hollow because it traps air and then their body
heat can warm the air. It's kind of like, um,
have you ever camped when it was cold and all
you need is one of those little thin blow up
mats because your body, heat warms the air underneath it.

(15:24):
It's a brand name, but right, okay, so it's the
same thing. But this is their fur that's doing that um,
And since it's hollow and translucent, it actually scatters all
colors of light and creates this white appearance like a
coartzid or something like that. So they're not actually white
coated in white fur. It's all an illusion. So if

(15:45):
you saw a polar bear in New York City, it
would be the color of street garbage, right, like a commute.
It's not true street garbage color color is that well,
you know, it's rays mustard. It's like a pizza box.
And they'll be some recycling and then just some just

(16:08):
New York apartment to trit us. It's like the colors
of the rainbow. Alright. So the fur is um not
all over their body. The parts of their body that
don't have this thick insulation and this blubber, the tail
and the muzzle and the ears are adapted to be
small because it's not as insulated with that blubber. So um,

(16:30):
it requires less energy to heat and it has less
surface to to lose heat from. Right, that's right. So yeah,
these guys are like incredibly well adapted for their environment,
which is really saying something because their environment is about
as inhospitable the mammal is. You can imagine, Um, they
are routinely comfortable and apparently have no heat loss whatsoever

(16:55):
at temperatures of like negative what was it, like like
a fifty fahrenhent negative fifty that's the like, that's the
temperature they're they're comfortable in um. And they actually, yeah,
they experienced no change in body temperature a temperature of
negative thirty four degrees Fahrheit, which is negative thirty seven celsius. Amazing. Yeah,
they're just like it's unaffected by it. They're that well

(17:18):
suited to the environment. So we mentioned them walking. They
can walk a great distances up to thirty I'm sorry,
twenty miles thirty KOs a day for days and days
in a row. And uh, they've been tracked swimming up
to sixty miles, which is amazing. Okay. One other thing
I saw um a Canadian geographic article, which is a

(17:43):
thing okay, Uh, and they get this was a two
thousand twelve article and they mentioned a recent study, so
probably two thousand, two thousand and eleven maybe twelve study
found polar bears swimming as a result of climate change
um up to six eighty seven pometers. That's four miles.
That's to get from ice to ice. Man, that's sad.

(18:06):
Four d twenty six miles. These things are just swimming, Like, well,
I don't think they're supposed to swim that far. No,
definitely not, you know, no, but they can. They'll do it.
That's amazing. And they're doing that to eat that sweet
sweet seal blubber. Yeah. And plus, I mean the sea
ice is their habitat. This is where they live, it's
where they sleep, it's and it's where they hunt most
most importantly. Yeah. So, um, they don't Another big difference

(18:29):
with the brown bears. They don't hibernate like uh, the
your average bear. Uh you like that. Uh, females sort
of semi hibernate when they're kind of pre and post pregnancy,
but it's not true hibernation. And like the biological sense,
you want to talk about mating, Oh sure, specifically polar

(18:51):
bear mating. Oh yeah, so again they are a fairly
not closely studied um mammal population, right, so scientists actually
aren't entirely sure. How females signal to males that they're
um ready to reproduce, and the reason why is um,

(19:15):
the females don't appear to actually go into any kind
of heat. They have something called induced ovulation, right, which
is once they're mating, they start to ovulate. It. Actually
the intercourse is what causes the ovulation, right, and not
always sometimes it takes several times. You gotta be good,
you gotta know what you're doing right. Um. And once

(19:39):
the once they actually do um. But I guess sure
once the once the egg is fertilized, the the embryo
doesn't actually start developing right away either. Yeah, that's super interesting.
It's an eight month gestation. But the first four months
it's just sitting there. Yeah. Just the fetus is just
like waiting while the mom eats and eats and eats

(20:03):
and prepares for that long uh, that long period as
we'll see where where you know, she has a little
cub and uh yeah, a couple of couple of times usual,
thank cute. You know all you've seen polar bear cubs, right,
it's pretty adorable. Twins. They're born blind without teeth. They

(20:24):
probably make cute little noises. They're not insulated, so they
need mom. Like, if polar bear mom dies right away,
polar bear cubs will not survive. Oh yeah, there's they're toasts,
zero chance. Yeah, like you said, they're born blind and
without teeth. They've really thin for no insulation. They weigh
about a pound in her foot long, which is really

(20:46):
tiny for a bear that's gonna grow into pounds. Um.
And yeah, that mom makes it den when she's um
carrying her her embryos and starts to fatten up. She
goes and makes a little winter den, sometimes the snow den, which,
by the way, you should see that movie snowdon It's good. Yeah,

(21:10):
the documentary of the movie. Well both yeah, yeah, okay, Um,
and so she'll make a little snow cave, snow den,
that kind of thing, um, or use an actual cave.
But for the most part, she's usually just digging out
a little space for herself. And then um, she'll give
birth and then nurse the cubs for at least their

(21:31):
first twenty months. Yeah, they have to hang out with
mama for a while and drink that milk. Yeah. I
think maybe, um, a couple of years, maybe up to
four years. They spend with mom, like learning to hunt
and all that kind of stuff. Um, but yes, she
doesn't leave the snow den for like the first um,
several months. Yeah, dad splits after a week. He's like,

(21:54):
my work here is done. I might even go get
someone else pregnant. They're not um and agamus. The women,
the women, the females, um their lady lady bears. They
they made successfully usually between the age of six and
eight years old. And they only for mammal don't reproduce

(22:15):
a lot, which is one of the reasons there's only
twenty five thousand of them. They only have about five
litters over their lifespan, whereas some mammals you know, I
mean they just have litter upon litter every year of multiple,
multiple little cubs. Yeah, which is another reason why you know,
a loss of the to the polar bear population is
it's a big deal. They don't replace. Their replacement rate

(22:37):
is kind of low, that's right. Uh. And there could
be you know, a battle over mating with a female
because um, it's you know, it's sparks out there. It's
not the most happening scene for picking up not a
firm bar, it's not a firm bar uh. So if
that happens, they will fight, they won't kill each other. Um, yeah,

(23:00):
I thought that was kind of Yeah. Of course, the
human to me is like, they know that they're dwindling,
so they won't kill each other. Of course it's not
true at all. That's funny because the human to me
was like they they're like, it's really tough out here,
so we all got to stick together. Yeah, you'd like
to think that. Um, but what they do is they
will they will lower their head but pin their ears
back and roar. It's kind of a lot of posturing. Um,

(23:23):
but there could be like an injury that occurs fighting
over who to mate with, right, but not to the death. Yeah,
I'm sure it happens occasionally. There's probably a jerk bear
every now and then. You know, this feels threatened Todd, Yeah,
he's all on steroids. But when a death will happen
is if anyone messes with those cubs, because Mama bear

(23:45):
will take you down, like without thinking twice. It's very sweet.
So the little bears have been brought up by their mom.
The twins Chuck and Buck, they are they have been
brought up by their mom and raised to hunt hunt, hunt,

(24:06):
and uh, now they know what they're doing. So if
you could drop in on either one of those guys
and actually there, I was really surprised to hear this.
The males will like hang out with one another. They're
not necessarily territorial. Yeah, they'll even share a meal occasionally. Yeah,
they have enough. Again, that's because they're like, it's tough

(24:26):
out here, man, Come on, They're like, brother, can you
spare a dime. I've had my hundred pounds of blubber today,
which is literally how much they can eat. So um.
When they hunt, they prefer ice, like a bit of ice,
sea ice that they can sit on. And actually what
they'll do is they look for holes in the ice.

(24:47):
The main prey of the polar bear is the ringed seal. Yes,
their favorite. They'll they'll eat other stuff. They'll eat just
about anything, a whale, carcass, alive, beluga whale that they
can catch, um, walrus is whatever, but they really go
nuts for ringed seals. Okay, so um. Ring seals have

(25:07):
a thing where, whenever it's um, the ice is thin
enough for them to dig through. And by thin enough,
we're talking like six feet right. The seal has these
um basically appendages and it's flippers that are sharp and
they use it to carve holes through the sea ice.
And these are the seals breathing holes, and they make

(25:29):
about ten to fifteen of them every season and then
they'll keep them like open throughout the season. They maintain them.
So they're hunting down there, they're eating their own stuff.
They need to come up for air sometimes, well polar
bears stake these things out because they know that a
seal has to come up forever e very like five
to ten minutes. It's like whack a mole almost exactly,

(25:51):
and they it's well, it's sad in a way, but
it's also it's sad for the seal, but it's necessary
and it's pretty sharp too, but it's it's an amazing
waiting game that requires tons of Like you can watch
videos on YouTube of a bear, and this is like
a a thousand pound bear, like very gingerly because you know,

(26:11):
the seal can see what's going on or feel it,
and they very quietly walk up to these holes and
just wait like a cat almost yeah days, just waiting
and smelling. They can smell like twenty miles so you
can bet they can smell down into that hole. And
then there's one that slow mo video of this bear
like leaping up in the air and the whole basically

(26:35):
everything but his butt and his hind legs goes down
into that water grabs that seal with those claws and yeah,
it's like these curse these breathing holes that I need,
uh had guilt. Yeah, and the bear eats well, like
I said, about a hundred pounds in a meal. And

(26:55):
it's also horrific, yeah, because they're white and the blood
for the seal really stands out against Yeah, and on
the ice and snow, it's like it does. It looks
like a horror movie. But bears have actually evolved to
clean up very like immediately after eating. So they'll eat
and eat and eat. Like you said, they'll eat like
a hundred pounds of blubber at a time, and when

(27:17):
the hunting is good, they'll just eat the seals blubber,
right um. And actually what's interesting is the omega threes
in that seal blubber actually cut down on the type
of cholesterol that would allow plaque to build up in
their arteries, so they can subsist basically on a diet
of seal blubber. You know, it's amazing. Um. And right

(27:38):
after they finished this meal, they're covered in blood and
it's really again horrific. They'll take a bath. Depending on
the time of year, they'll take a bath in the
in the sea itself, or they'll take a snow bath,
and then they'll take a little nap. Well, because they
need that, like you said, they need that furtive remain
translucent and clean in order to stay warm and dry.

(27:59):
So uh, yeah, they clean up to keep themselves warm,
not just because they look like something out of a
West Craven movie, but but also because they have to
remain camouflaged too. Yeah, exactly. Uh. Well, before we take
a break, I do want to mention the very funny
thing if a polar bear does not get that seal

(28:20):
in the hole, they can throw a little hissy fit
and they've been known to like pound the ice in frustration.
Uh And I don't think like people are, you know,
putting their stuff on the bear like they literally like
when they miss the seal, start throwing things around and
beating on the ice because they're angry. Like imagine waiting
at an air hole two days the seal finally comes

(28:42):
up and you miss. Yeah, I can. I don't think
it's anthropomorphizing either. It's pretty funny. All right, let's take
a break and we'll talk a little bit about their
dwindling ice and numbers after this. Sorry, all right, we're back.

(29:24):
One thing we did not mention that I think it's obvious,
but we might as well say it is. The polar
bear is nothing hunts the polar bear, Right, They're the king,
Daddy's and mama's of their land, the apex predator. Yeah,
which is a pretty good place to be. Um, the
bad place to be if you're a polar bear is
where you live and hunt, because, like we said, it's

(29:47):
it's shrinking, and um, it creates a lot of problems.
We mentioned a little bit about the ecosystem. You know,
they'll go in there and they'll eat birds and eggs
and things like that when they have to caribou maybe, yeah,
but the they're not supposed to be eating that stuff. Uh.
And they're not supposed to be encountering humans as often
as they are either, which is a problem in some

(30:07):
parts of the world. But yeah, well there's actually, um
a town in Manitoba called Churchill that's developed a like
basically it's made itself a tourist destination for polar bear tourism. Um.
But it's like one of the few places in the
world that's like an established settlement where Westerners can come

(30:28):
and um view them. Yeah. Uh. But even in Churchill,
they they occasionally have to like shoot the polar bears
if they just won't leave. And apparently a little p
s a here. If you ever encounter a polar bear,
do not lay down and play debt. That's not what
you want to do. Yeah, is it like regular bears?

(30:50):
You try to make yourself look big, look big, make
a lot of noise, chase them off. Um. Apparently they'll
break out. There's another town um in uh I think Norway.
Uh that what they'll like rev their snowmobiles. They'll get
the town helicopter out and try to scare them off
like that. Yeah. That's the one small bard which has

(31:13):
people and three thousand polar bears. Yeah, so they've probably
gotten pretty used to fending for themselves they have. Um
for the most part, the bears will leave because from
everything I saw, the polar bear in particular isn't interested
in in encountering humans. It's not their thing. No, it's
like almost any wildlife, they're forced into that situation. Yeah.

(31:36):
If you look at bear attacks though, um, like a
grizzly bear will attack you while you're just sleeping quietly
in a sleeping bag near anywhere near and it comes
into your camp, it'll mall you your dad. The polar
bear list of polar bear attacks do not include stuff
like that. It's it's a polar bear that you've startled,

(31:56):
or you're very hungry, or it's very hungry and up
and have meat in your pockets. Yeah that was Yeah.
In Churchill, Manitoba. There um their stats they have had
two people killed in three hundred years by polar bears. Yeah,
which that's pretty good trek record for one of two
towns where not bad. One of them was because these kids,

(32:20):
uh saw a bear and started throwing rocks at it.
Not a good idea. So the bear was like, all right,
jerk's here I come. Uh. And then the second one,
the dude had meat in his pockets, you know, yeah,
who was eating in a diner. He wanted to go box.
Just put that meat loaf in your pocket and he's like,
I guess I will this one time and the one time.

(32:42):
But actually, if you do look at the polar bears
stats right for attacks fatal attacks by polar bears in
the United States and Canada. And remember six of all
polar bears UH live in Canada, so this is a
substantial amount of the polar bears. Um. There there have
been eight fatal attacks in the United States and Canada

(33:04):
bipolar bear since nineteen two. Four of those took place
in zoos where humans climbed into the enclosure with the
polar bear. I sold this one lady that wanted to
swim with them. Yeah, they was jumped in and got
bitten on like the arm and back. It was like
screaming and they fixed her out. Oh she survived. She survived.
A bad idea, Um, apparently that's the thing. There's a

(33:25):
dude in Toledo before I was born, who was found
in the polar bear enclosure at the Toledo Zoo and
they think he was probably on drugs, and I'm sure
he was like, this is gonna be great. I'm gonna
go hang out with that polar bear. But think of it.
Eight people died in the U. S and Canada since
nineteen seventy two, half of them at the zoo, only

(33:46):
four in the wild. So that's the real stat It
does say a lot. It does um And you know
we said make yourself look big. If you don't know
what that means, that means. The big trick is to, uh,
you probably got on a winter out if you're living
in one of these places. So just grab the bottom
of your winter coat and pull it up over your

(34:06):
head with your arms and basically, yeah, you just appear
like large. And that's one of the big survival tips
for any bear. Really just makes you look bigger and scarier,
because bears are you know, actually, polar bears are pretty
smart supposedly, Is that right? Yeah? I was about to
say they were dumb, but they they're one of the
smarter mammals. I mean, how so where did you see that?

(34:28):
I was just on a polar bear site. You know,
they were just literally ticking off all the like cognitive abilities.
But I think there's they're supposed to be much smarter
than like your average brown bear. Yeah, yogi bear, Yeah
there he's pretty smart. You can talk where's the tie?
I think he's driven a car before you can get
inside a picnic basket. I love that. When I was

(34:51):
a kid, did you watch that? Oh? Yeah, I liked
Yogi Bear from like the original series all the way
through the weird stuff in like the seventies. I don't
remember the weird stuff like, um, the laugh Olympics. Yea,
all that it's been off and whatnot. Yeah, so Chuck.
We've talked about it indirectly a couple of times. But

(35:12):
the Polar bears habitat is shrinking tremendously, right, The ice
is literally melting, and like I was saying in that
one Canadian geographic article, they were saying that the bears,
the bears in the south are really having trouble and
there are far more human bear encounters than they normally are.
Because if a bear makes his way to shore and um,

(35:36):
summer strikes and the ice recedes, they're stuck. He's stuck.
They have to wait around until winter comes again or
a late fall and the ice starts to come back
towards shore so they can swim toward it or swim
right exactly. Um. So that's that's creating a problem, especially
for the ones that are in the southern range, but
the ones that are in the northern range are enjoying

(35:58):
like easier hunting than ever because the ice is thinning
out for them, so they the seals can get through
it more easily, so there's more seals, so there's more
hunting up north. The thing is that's not necessarily sustainable,
Like they may be enjoying like a heyday right now,
but eventually that ice will melt too, and well they'll

(36:19):
be goners. Interesting because a bear can overheat from from
running right, so as the temperatures increase, the bears actual
physical health is in danger. Let alone there you know,
habitat shrinking um. So they're not entirely certain what to do.
I looked up hunting polar bears, and I think the

(36:42):
only the Inuit people are allowed to Well, you can
get there are certain places in Canada where he can
get an exemption, but it's apparently very rare and controlled
and very expensive, well and expensive and and supposedly they
say is is well within um the bounds of not

(37:02):
harming the overall population number. Well again, I'm sorry to
keep going back to this, well, but that Canadian geographic article, um,
I should probably say the name. I think it's called
the Truth about Polar Bears totally worth reading. But um
it talks a lot about managed hunting programs being a
good thing or bad. They were saying, it's as long

(37:23):
as it's done right basically everybody involved. I think they
even cited the World Wildlife Fund as saying like, yeah,
we should probably like manage these populations through hunting with
with very strict quotas. But yeah, the Inuits traditionally, or
the Inuit and I think the Cree are two groups

(37:43):
that have like virtually unrestricted honting. But they're they're apparently
trusted to, you know, stay within these these limits. Yeah,
and the people that can pay to do it, I
think have to be taken in by an with guides,
and they actually the Inuit families who keeps the the

(38:06):
bear meat? Right after the rich American? Yeah, I saw
that too, kills the bear, which is that's great? Who
cares about the meat? I just want to kill the bear? Yeah,
I just want the head on my wall. I founded
Jimmy John's. Isn't that the guy? Yeah, he's a big
game hunter. Who else was? Who's the other guy? The dentist?

(38:27):
I killed Leo the lion? Yeah, I wonder whatever happened
to him I bet his dentist practice suffered. Yeah, that'd
be my guess. Oh, it definitely did. But I wonder
if it rebounded since since the initial since the Internet
got bored and moved on to something else. Yeah, probably so.
I mean, I'm not into any hunting for myself, UM,

(38:50):
but I've certainly hate big game hunting for anyone. You know,
I would like to put a call out like, UM,
anytime I've I've had discussions about hunting or whatever, and
I've said, I don't, I don't see the point in
our modern world of hunting. Um. It's always been countered with, well,
you know, hunting is a lot more humane than the

(39:12):
factory sure farming that you're you're eating the meat from. Um.
And I've never that's always struck me as a straw
straw argument, draw me an argument, But I've never been
able to exactly identify why. Or maybe it's not and
that's why I've never been able to identify why. But
it's it's always confounded me. Yeah, I don't. I mean

(39:33):
I know that people talk about the populations and controlled
hunting and all that being good for the population, which
I'm sure that's very valid. I'm just talking about me personally,
Like when push came to shove, I like hanging out
in the woods. I like camping. I like shooting guns
every now and then it targets. Sure, shoot up some
tin cans. It's fun. But when push came to shove,
I can never like pull the trigger and kill an animal.

(39:54):
I shot a squirrel when I was a kid, and
it was just like the worst day of my life.
I think I've told that story was awful. I've got
one or two of those under my belt. Yeah, and
you either get into it or you don't, I guess.
And all of my friends hunted growing up, you know,
in Georgia at my church, like every single one of them.
But my dad didn't hunt, So I didn't hunt. Yeah,
he didn't take a stand. He was just he was

(40:14):
into camping and hiking and not shooting animals. Leaving nothing
but footprints, taking nothing but photographs. Let's not take only
pictures and polar bear heads, leave only footprints, leave only
blood in the snow, and leave the polar bear meat
behind for the Inuit. So Newt, oh, yeah, you got

(40:36):
anything else? No, let's finish up with Newt. Everyone remembers
Newt cutest polar bear ever uh in Germany, and new
To died very sadly had a seizure and fell into
a pool. And they think that he probably drowned once
he fell in, right, I think he had meningitis. Well, no,
they finally found out what it is. They couldn't find

(40:56):
any kind of pathogen, and so this doctor Harold Ruce
for the German Center of Neurodegenerative Disease got together with
UM Professor Alex Greenwood at the Leibnitz Institute for Zoo
and Wildlife Research, and they said that he had an
autoimmune disease. They found out because nothing made sense about

(41:17):
the seizure. So they really wanted to investigate, not only
for newts sake, but to you know, see if they
could help other animals and the uh. It turns out
that Newt is the very first animal domesticated wild ever
diagnosed with an anti n m d A receptor encephalitis.
Oh that's what it was. In cephalitis mais yeah, which

(41:38):
is a non infectious form of encephalitis, which basically is
when your body's own immune system attacks your brain. Is
the very first animal ever recorded to have this. So well,
poor Newda, but a big breakthrough to learn this that
it can happen because now they can you know, study
it and new it was the the reason they can

(42:00):
make this progress. So maybe something good can come from that.
Very sad though, sure have a seizure and falling water
and drown You got anything else? Nothing else? I do
have one other thing that Inuit. Speaking of the Inuit,
they have UM. Obviously a number of legends about polar bears.
One of them is that they're actually uh shape shifters,

(42:24):
human shape shifters once again their iglues they shed their
polar bear skin and turned back into humans. That The
other is that UM when when an Inuit kills the
polar bear, they will put out like an offering of tools,
again with the idea that the polar bears UM have
some sort of uh they share an afterlife with humans,

(42:46):
possibly as humans UM, and that they need these tools
in the afterlife. And the better the spread of tools
you give the polar bear, the more likely this polar
bear is to tell other living polar bears, Hey, you
should let this guy kill you because he's gonna hook
you up with some amazing tools afterwards. Nice, So go
ahead and let him take your life. Very spiritual. It's

(43:06):
pretty cool. They call him Nanook, yes in a n
U K. Yeah not okay. Uh. If you want to
know more about Nannook, UH, you can type the word
polar Bears into the search part how stuff works dot com.
And since I said Nannook, it's time for a listener mail.

(43:30):
I'm gonna call this letter from a young fan. Okay, good,
we like those right, Yeah, of course. Hey guys, I'm
a fourteen year old fan. Actually, my fifteenth birthday is tomorrow,
which is now in the past, so he's already fifteen.
I wanted to get it out before then. I've been
listening since last July, and I've recently been listening to
the older podcast from the beginning about three years in.

(43:52):
At this point, I've never written in before because I
had no real reason to. I have recently started my
freshman year at a new school. UH, and it's been
hard for me because I was homeschooled before this, and
I could listen to you guys whenever I wanted to.
But now I'm at a charter school and I miss
having you in my ear all the time. Uh. And
then he sends his name is Elias, and he sends

(44:14):
a couple of ps s. If Jerry were to speak
at the normal volume, would your microphones pick her up? Uh? No,
I don't think so, Jerry, would they now she speaks?
Are right? Now? These are directional mis Uh these are
omnipresidental mikes. Well, that means they should pick up Jerry,

(44:34):
but they're not that good. Okay, uh no alias. These
microphones are generally for when we put our mouths right
upon them, and they're not meant to hear other things
in the room. Right, That's that's what they're made for. Yeah,
because Jerry's she yells at us through most of the show,
no one ever hears it. There's a lot of like
shaking and twitching that media and then the PPS which

(44:55):
is correct. Recently came across how squatters work. You gave
me an example of renters who moved out, but it
invited a house guess who refused to move out, which
classified as a squatter. I was wondering if you could
rent for a month, stop paying, and refuse to move
out and invoke squatters rights, would that work. I'm not
planning on trying it, but it invoked my curiosity. Alas,

(45:17):
I don't think that would work. Because it takes many,
many years too to finally gain you know, I mean,
you might be able to stay there for a little while,
but I don't think you would be able to stay
there for the years it would take to gain I
guess ownership of the property. Is that that's what he's asking. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah,

(45:39):
you you'd be able to stay there throughout the legal process,
but like I think, it's like thirteen years that you
have to stay somewhere well before you can. But it's years, right, Yeah,
it takes a long time, and I would imagine at
some point a landlord would eventually bring in Vinny and
Vinny and Jimmy viny unto it to make sure can

(46:01):
you leave? Yeah, that would be my guess. The key here, Elias,
is to go find yourself an abandoned house that clearly
no one wants move in there, spruced to place up
and start paying taxes on it. Don't do that, But
I'm just saying sure. Advice to fifteen year old listeners.
Thank you, Alis, Yeah, thanks a lot of lies. That
was a good one. If you have a question, uh,

(46:23):
then you want to get in touch with us, you
can tweet to us at s y s K podcast.
You can join us on Facebook at Facebook dot com
slash stuff you Should Know. You can send us an
email to Stuff Podcast at how stuff Works dot com
and has always joined us at our home on the web,
Stuff you Should Know dot com. For more on this

(46:45):
and thousands of other topics, is it how stuff Works
dot com

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