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Creature Features: Polar Bears

Awwww – look how well this sleepy polar bear blends into the background! But, did you know that he only appears to match the snow? Polar bears actually have transparent fur that allows sunlight to pass through the hair and become absorbed by the bear's black skin, helping to keep them extra toasty! The fur looks white because it's reflecting the white surroundings while helping him blend in. In fact, polar bears have two coats of fur – an outer one with hollow guard hairs and a softer, inner one combining as a double-layer to heat them up. Added to that is a layer of fat from two to four inches thick that provides a third level of insulation – perfect for those North Pole temps! For those of you experiencing an onslaught of wintery days, 'tis the best season to watch the polars bears in action at your local zoos – my fave is Gus at New York's Central Park Zoo.


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