Albino Black Bear: What Is A Spirit Bear And Why Are They So Rare? | Kidadl


Albino Black Bear: What Is A Spirit Bear And Why Are They So Rare?

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Also known as spirit bear or Kermode bear, the white bear is a unique species with a cream or white colored coat.

Found in British Columbia in Canada, this is a white black bear. In the 1990s, zoologist Mr. Frank Kermode extensively studied this animal. As a result, the official name of this bear became known as the Kermode bear. The name ‘spirit bear’ was given by the native people of British Columbia.

The native people believed that this white bear has some sort of connection with the spiritual world. Hence the name ‘spirit bear.’ The presence of a rare recessive gene in the body of this bear gives the fur a creamy or white colored texture instead of the black fur.

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What is it called and why?

At first glance, you might think this is a polar bear. But once you know the truth you will understand why it is not a polar bear.

It is a subspecies of the black bear, also known as the Kermode bear. The zoologist Frank Kermode studied this bear quite intricately in the 1990s. As a result, his name has become permanently associated with this bear. It is also known as a ghost bear or spirit bear by the native American people. They believe the bear has a spiritual connection to the past, particularly the white color that resembles the snow or ice. The white color of this bear is a reminder that people should appreciate the green vegetation found today in place of the large glaciers that occurred in the past.

How rare is a white black bear?

The Kermode bear is a rare occurrence in nature. As such, the native people of British Columbia have attained symbols of spirituality to the animal.

The chance of you coming across a white black bear is extremely low. This is due to the fact that both the parents have to carry the recessive gene that would produce the cream or white colored fur. This is true even if one of the parents is a spirit bear itself. Only one in ten black bears have been estimated to carry the rare gene. So the chances of you finding an albino bear are very slim. The spirit bears have pigment in the eyes and skin. Hence it would be wrong to term them as albinos. The mutant gene in the body of the bear gives it white fur instead of the black color you would usually find in black bears.

Where can you see spirit bears?

The white-black bear can be found only in a limited space inside British Columbia in Canada. The wild animal is not found anywhere else on the planet.

The Great Bear Rainforest is the only habitat of the spirit bear, a subspecies of the black bears. It is a huge ecosystem located on the north and central coast of British Columbia. The area is the largest known instance of a temperate rainforest that is thriving even today. More specifically the coastal islands around Hazleton and the Nass River are locations with some sightings of the Kermode bear.

A Sprit Bear is just a white-black bear.

Is it harder for spirit bears to hunt?

It is a common misconception that the Kermode bear is a bad hunter compared to the original black bear. On the contrary, they are excellent hunters themselves.

The spirit bear is more successful in catching salmon during the day than the black-colored bears. They are better camouflaged in the day as their pale color makes them nearly invisible to the salmon in the water. The black bear easily gets noticed by the fish and the latter escapes being caught by it. If they do not find salmon to eat, the Kermode bears eat other things such as berries, roots, insects, fruits, and grasses. Being omnivores, the spirit bears do not face any problem in the absence of fish.

How many spirit bears are left in the world?

The number of Kermode bears in the wild is not exactly known although research is being conducted to establish the true population.

Reports of Discover Wildlife state that there are fewer than 400 spirit bears on the whole planet. But some reports also suggest that there might be more than 1300 Kermode bears. The chances of someone stumbling across one is still a rare occurrence though. The cubs are born in the months of January or February and stay with their mother for 17 months approximately. The lifespan of these bears is about 25 years in the forest.

What threats do spirit bears face?

The main threat to the Kermode bear is that of grizzlies. Loss of habitat due to the illegal cutting of trees and poaching are other dangers to the life of the spirit bear.

When the salmon population is on the decline, the grizzlies often travel far away in search of food. By doing so, sometimes they encroach on the land inhabited by spirit bears. Since they are stronger and larger, the grizzlies chase away any other bear species from their fishing spots. The cutting down of trees that the spirit bears depend on for living and giving birth is a serious threat. A major threat is hunting. The British Columbia government allows people to legally hunt black bears but it is still illegal to kill spirit bears. If a black bear with the rare gene is hunted, the possibility of a new ghost bear being born dwindles down.

The role of the bear in the environment is an important one. It helps in the growth of forests by helping to spread marine nutrients. The dead bodies of salmons are absorbed by the jungle and thus the nutrients in their body are transferred to the trees.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for albino black bear then why not take a look at do polar bears eat penguins, or grizzly bear facts?

Rajnandini is an art lover and enthusiastically likes to spread her knowledge. With a Master of Arts in English, she has worked as a private tutor and, in the past few years, has moved into content writing for companies such as Writer's Zone. Trilingual Rajnandini has also published work in a supplement for 'The Telegraph', and had her poetry shortlisted in Poems4Peace, an international project. Outside work, her interests include music, movies, travel, philanthropy, writing her blog, and reading. She is fond of classic British literature.

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