Polar bear reproduction
Spring: Looking for a mate
Males seek out females by following their scent. Two males may fight over a female.
Polar bears couples are only together for about a week before they separate. The male may then seek out another mate (a behaviour known as polygyny) .
Polar bear mating habits
- Females begin to mate around the ages of 4 or 5
- Males take longer to mature and usually begin attempts to mate around the age of 5 or 6, though their prime breeding years begin around age 10
Some bears follow the ice--and seals--north. But where polar bears are forced to spend the summer onshore due to lack of sea ice, pregnant polar bears may live off fat reserves for up to 9 months.
Summer sea ice is disappearing. It is projected to be nearly gone by 2040.
Autumn: Building a den
Expectant mothers use these dens to rest and keep warm during the harsh Arctic winters.
Winter: Raising cubs
Between the snow den, their mother's body heat and milk, the cubs grow fast before they leave the den in March or April.
The cubs take short field trips from the den to get used to outside temperatures before learning to live and hunt on the frozen ocean.
After 2 years together, the family disperses and the cycle begins again.