Polar Bear Adoption?

Polar Bear Adoption? For Mother’s Day I wanted to share the story of a special polar bear mom. When we first came upon her in the sea ice we were excited to see a mom with 3 cubs. Seeing triplet cubs is extremely rare in the wild, partially because triplets don’t occur frequently, but also because the cub survival rate is low. In the early 2000's USGS estimated that only 43% of cubs survived their first year. These cubs are 1.5 years old so the odds of seeing triplets at that age are low but not impossible. After the sighting as we zoomed into our photos we realized that one cub had been tagged with a small white device in his ear. Our guides thought this was strange as a scientific team would tag the whole family. Based on a documented case of a polar bear adopting another cub they believed that what we were seeing was an adoption where the mom was taking care of another cub in addition to her own pair. Perhaps during an encounter on the ice a cub had mistakenly followed the wrong mom. After the trip one of the guides contacted the Polar Bear Institute who confirmed that they had not tagged only one cub in a family. While we will never know exactly how this family of 4 came to be it was still amazing to see this mom providing for 3 growing yearlings in a world of diminishing sea ice and shorter feeding seasons. All three cubs looked fat and healthy when we saw them in 2017.

Have a happy Mother’s Day!

If you would like to see more images from our trip see our website: Svalbard 2017


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