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3764.  Tue Dec 30, 2003 3:41 pm Reply with quote

Which is the horse and which the cart here? Bears that live in places with cold winters deal with winter by hibernating. Places with long cold winters have short summers, so the cubs need all available eating time to have a chance of building up fat enough to last their first winter. So they need to start early, and if their mothers do the mating game in the spring they will lose precious weeks in utero. So one solution is to have a winter pregnancy. BUT mother is not taking anything in (because she's asleep) so it's better to have a small undemanding fetus. So ... I've lost myself a bit but Ma Bear is fasting because she's asleep (wch is her solution to the lack of winter food problem) not in order to make a small cub. There is a whole branch of biology on parent-offspring conflict where each is trying to maximise their "fitness".

4214.  Mon Jan 12, 2004 3:06 pm Reply with quote

If confronted by a grizzly bear, play dead. On no account do this if threatened by a black bear.

Black bears and grizzly bears can be distinguished by the length of their claws. Examine them closely. If they belong to a grizzly, play dead. If they belong to a black bear, you are dead.

s: TST 10.2.02

4216.  Mon Jan 12, 2004 3:09 pm Reply with quote

Animals can be divided into ‘plantigrade’ –creatures that walk on the whole of their feet (like people, bears, baboons, alligators and frogs)– and ‘digitigrade’ – creatures that walk on their toes (like dogs, cats, birds and dinosaurs).


4217.  Mon Jan 12, 2004 3:11 pm Reply with quote

You mean they don't go to nail bars?

4218.  Mon Jan 12, 2004 3:13 pm Reply with quote

It is illegal for residents of New York City to keep a pet grizzly bear.

Bats,pythons, elephants, tasmanian devils, venomous spiders, iguanas, porcupines and giraffes are also illegal.

s:The Guardian

4221.  Mon Jan 12, 2004 3:18 pm Reply with quote

It was evidently legal at Cambridge a couple of hundred years ago to keep pet bears - see post 4220 on the Bards thread.

4228.  Mon Jan 12, 2004 3:31 pm Reply with quote

Ah, good evening, everyone. (Sorry didn't see you there, Sean and Jenny).

4229.  Mon Jan 12, 2004 3:32 pm Reply with quote


Byron kept the bear in his rooms because he was forbidden by college regulations to keep a dog. It was a gag, y'see...

4230.  Mon Jan 12, 2004 3:36 pm Reply with quote

Here are some polar bear factoids culled from the QIDb which have a bearing on, or are a gloss to earlier posts on this thread.

The town of Churchill in Manitoba, Canada has a population of 1,000 people and 200 polar bears. It is illegal for residents to lock their houses in case anyone needs to escape from a bear. There is a special Polar Bear Police squad that people phone if they see a polar bear in the town centre. The police arrive and shoot the bear with anaesthetic. The bears are then locked up in a special Polar Bear detention centre, which has a 32-bear capacity. When the jail is full the bears are tagged with ear-markers, put into an aeroplane and flown 20 to 30 miles to the north. Bears which are caught four times are labelled ‘hopeless recidivists’ and are sold to zoos around the world.

s: Daily Telegraph Magazine 27.1.01

Most polar bears are twins. It is not uncommon for them to be triplets but the littlest one almost never lives longer than six months.

s: National Geographic magazine 12.2000

Polar bears feet are a foot long.The soles are partly webbed and hairy.(EBR) They are the best part of a polar bear to eat. (OCF) The front paws are 12 inches long and broad with it, the back ones slightly smaller.

Slow though they may be, and reluctant to do it, olar bears can swim for sixty miles without stopping.

Polar bears are not left-handed, they are ambidextrous.

(This last fact I researched pretty thoroughly from a number of decentish sites a couple of years ago. I believe the 'Polar bears are left-handed' net-factoid to be as spurious as 'A Duck's Quack Does Not Echo...and no-one knows why')

4232.  Mon Jan 12, 2004 3:41 pm Reply with quote

Fortunately the handedness of polar bears was previously unknown to me, so that's one more thing I haven't got to unlearn.

Regarding Byron's gag - yes, I can imagine he would do something like that.

4308.  Tue Jan 13, 2004 5:15 pm Reply with quote

I've just seen this on the Byron thread, which I didn't know and certainly found Quite Interesting.

Sophie J wrote:
Cambridge University did not allow the keeping of dogs, so Byron kept a bear.

He didn't, as is often claimed, keep it in his room though. It was kept in the stables in Ram Yard with Byron's horses. The bear was called Bruin and Byron liked to boast that it would eventually sit for a fellowship. Obviously this was a joke but it was also Byron's way of having a dig at the fact that you had to do so little to become a fellow of the university. Byron believed that it had more to do with money and social standing than academia. He never had to take any exams himself as at that time at Cambridge nobles were exempt from them.

4313.  Tue Jan 13, 2004 5:57 pm Reply with quote

The liver of a polar bear contains such high concentrations of Vitamin A (from its diet of seal flesh) that it is toxic to human beings.

Although I have yet to check the number of people who have suffered from polar-bear-poisoning, the Well-Known Fact about this is that it has caused numerous fatalities and mishaps to befall polar expeditions running short on supplies.

This much is easily google-able, but I have stumbled across the following reference, which I intend to follow up to get chapter and verse:

Rodahl, K. and T. Moore. 1943. Vitamin A poisoning in man resulting from the consumption of polar bear liver. Biochem. J. 37:166.

4314.  Tue Jan 13, 2004 6:03 pm Reply with quote

I once found a recipe book in the Oxfam shop in Abbeville Road, Clapham, SW4 called "Cooking in the Arctic Circle", checked in the chapter on polar bear recipes, and sure enough it contained a warning on this subject.

It is a matter of lasting regret to me that I didn't bother to buy the book.

4315.  Tue Jan 13, 2004 6:04 pm Reply with quote

Great idea, G.

That Vitamin A Poisoning /Polar Bear's Liver thing has a very Duck's Quack feel to it.


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