When you think of a white bear, you’re probably imagining the iconic, formidable, and sadly, endangered polar bear, roaming the frozen plains at the top of the globe. After all, white fur in an all-white climate makes sense. Although to be technical, a polar bear’s fur is transparent, and only appears white because it reflects the light.
Soyou might not expect to find a white bear in the middle of the rich green forests of British Columbia in Canada. But in fact, there’s an entire population of elusive white bears living in these beautiful forests.
And they don’t have albinism. As weird as it sounds, they’re actually white-furred black bears!
The indigenous peoples of the area called these bears “spirit bears” and held them especially sacred due to their shy, elusive nature.
Even though a black or brown bear might be better camouflaged, seeing a white bear was very rare. Their white fur is the result of a genetic anomaly, so they’re not common.
Bears have long fascinated people. They’re so adorable, but very dangerous! Many species of bear, like the Andean bear, are also threatened by human activities, and need protection.
Most white-colored animals have a tough time because it’s harder for them to camouflage themselves, so they’re obvious to predators and prey alike.
But the spirit bear’s white fur actually gives it an advantage when fishing for salmon.
During the day, it’s harder for the fish to see a light-colored bear against the light sky, and so spirit bears are actually more successful at catching salmon during the day than their black-furred friends.