Bears all over the world are considered to be a symbol of power. Bears are found in North America and Asia. No bears are found in Africa, Australia or Antarctica. Bears are closely related to the dog family. The biggest bear is a polar bear which can weigh up to a ton. The sun bear is the smallest bear and is the size of a dog.
Bears can run up to forty miles per hour. They have jaws strong enough to cut through a tree trunk. They are very smart and know how to snap a hunter's trap and get the meat without getting caught themselves. Bears have short tails, and short legs. Their fur is very thick to keep them warm. They have an amazing sense of smell.
There are eight different kinds of bears. Black bears are the most common bears in North America. Their fur may not always be black but can be reddish brown, light brown or even white. The bears which live in America are black or brown in color.
The brown bear is the most common bear. It lives in forests and valleys in Europe, Asia and western North America, mostly in Canada or Alaska. Brown bears are two to three times as big as black bears. They can also be colors other than black, such as red, blond and reddish brown. The most famous brown bear is the grizzly. Grizzled means streaked with gray. A grizzly bear has gray-tipped fur.
Polar bears live near the North Pole. They have white fur to help them hide in the snow, long necks and small heads. Because their front paws are partly webbed, like a duck's, they can swim hundreds of miles in freezing water. A layer of fat beneath their skin keeps them warm.
Giant pandas which have round white heads and black eye patches live in the mountains of China. Asiatic black bears are called moon bears because they have a white crescent marking on their chests. Sun bears have a white or yellow patch on their necks. They live in southeastern Asian forests.
Bears can be omnivores. Some, however, eat only plants and berries. What they eat depends on where they live. Polar bears eat seals and walruses. Brown bears in North America eat many kinds of animals and fish. In Japan, fruit, berries, nuts and insects make up the diet of the brown bears. Giant pandas eat only the bamboo plant. Sloth bears love termites, but will eat berries and honey too.
Bears must eat a lot during the summer because in the fall most bears go into caves or dens to hibernate until spring. Hibernation is like sleep, but bears' hearts slow down during this time of hibernation. Their temperatures also drop. Bears use less energy and can do without food during the winter when there isn't usually enough to eat. Bears which live where there is food all year long don't hibernate.
All bears go into a den to have their babies. Cubs are blind at birth and weigh less than one pound. They stay in the den for a few months and drink their mother's milk. After they come out of the den, they stay close to their mothers for two to three years. Grown male bears fight for the chance to mate. Only the strongest then will be able to mate and produce cubs. Female bears raise the cubs alone. One danger to the cubs is that the males may even eat the cubs.
In summary, bears are found only in North America and Asia. Polar bears are the largest bears and sun bears are the smallest. They are related to the dog family. Some bears are omnivores, while others eat only fruits and berries. Most bears in cold climates hibernate during the winter.