WWF's internet polar bear s are pregnant - Season's Greetings Lena and Yana!Oslo, Norway - WWF·s two female polar bears · which can be tracked in near real-time via the internet · are pregnant, the conservation organisation announced today.
One of the polar bears, Lena, entered her snow den in the Arctic in early December and is expected to give birth within the next two weeks. Yana, the second bear, is looking for a good location to make her den and give birth.
Lynn Rosentrater, a scientist with the WWF International Arctic Programme in Oslo, Norway said: "We·ve been following Lena and Yana·s progress closely around the Barents Sea and Spitsbergen since August. Their movements tell us they are pregnant and will soon give birth. Once they are both in their dens and snow starts to accumulate on top of them, then we will loose contact with them via our website. But we·ll be able to follow them again when they emerge with their cubs in April next year." 1)
Polar bears are usually solitary animals. Breeding pairs remain together for about a week in the spring then separate. The most constant social interaction occurs between mothers and cubs. In the late autumn, pregnant females dig dens in deep snow drifts on land while the rest of the population remains active on the ice through the winter. There are usually two cubs born, each weighing around 600g (1.3 lbs) and about the size of a guinea pig.
Cubs are nursed in the den on fat-rich milk until they weigh about 10 kg (22 lbs) and are large enough to venture onto the sea ice in March or April. They usually stay with their mother for about 2.5 years before striking out on their own.
WWF has been working with the Norwegian Polar Institute, whose scientists tagged the polar bears with special radio collars, to help gather information about their biology. They are vulnerable to the rapid melting of the sea ice, which NASA reported three weeks ago saying it was "due to rising temperatures and interactions between ice, ocean and the atmosphere that accelerate the melting process." Toxic chemicals from manufacturing processes, which are transported by wind and accumulate in polar bears· body fat, threaten their fertility and immune systems.
Lynn Rosentrater said: "We can all help ensure a future for Lena, Yana and their children, and children·s children, by taking action against global warming and by phasing out toxics which threaten their fertility and immune systems. But for now, it·s Season's Greetings, Lena and Yana!"
For further information:
Julian Woolford, WWF Arctic Programme, Tel: 00 47 22 03 6 510, Mobile: 00 47 93 00 64 47, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
WWF's polar bear tracking website · http://www.panda.org/polarbears.
NASA on Arctic Sea Ice: http://www.gsfc.nasa.gov/topstory/2002/1122seaice.html
WWF press release on Arctic Sea Ice: http://www.panda.org/about_wwf/what_we_do/climate_change/news/index.cfm?uNewsID=4881