Bears: Do you know enough to pass this quiz?

grizzly bear sow and cub
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Bears are found all over the world. They can range from cuddly and cute to downright terrifying, but they're always fascinating. Test your knowledge of these amazing animals with this fun quiz.

Question 1 of 15

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bears on stamps
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How many species of bears are there worldwide?

While there are several subspecies of black bear and quite a few subspecies of brown bear, there are only eight unique species of bear. These include: American black bear, Asiatic black bear, brown bear, giant panda, sloth bear, sun bear, polar bear and spectacled bear.

Question 2 of 15

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What is a spirit bear?

The Kermode bear is a subspecies of black bear found in the central and north coast regions of British Columbia. Up to one-tenth of the population has white or cream-colored coats. This ghostly color morph is why the subspecies is commonly called a spirit bear. It is not albino nor leucistic; the color is based on recessive genes. Thus a black sow can have a white cub.

Question 3 of 15

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polar bear and cub
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Name a surprising feature about polar bear fur:

Polar bears don't have white fur, they have translucent fur. Each hair lacks any pigment and is hollow, allowing it to react with light in much the same way that snow (also not white) does. When light hits the hair, the photons in each wavelength bounce around and back out again, making the bear appear white. Everything else listed here about a polar bear's fur — including the widespread notion that the bear's translucent fur helps the animal absorb light for added warmth — is false. 

Question 4 of 15

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bear paw tracks
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What bear species is the most widely distributed?

Brown bears (Ursus arctos) are found on three continents: North America, Europe and Asia. With such wide distribution, there are many subspecies of brown bear, though the exact number is a topic of debate. It is commonly agreed that there are 15 living subspecies, but as many as 90 subspecies have been proposed. There are at least two subspecies in North America, including the grizzly bear (U.a. horribilis) and the Kodiak bear (U.a. middendorffi).

Question 5 of 15

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black bear cub on tree
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What is the smallest species of bear?

The endangered sun bear is the smallest of the bears, growing to only 3.5-4.5 feet long and between 60-145 pounds. For comparison, that's roughly half the size of the American black bear (and that's an adorable black bear cub pictured above).

Question 6 of 15

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sun bear portrait
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Why are sun bears so named?

Sun bears are named for the crescent of light-colored fur on their chests, which according to legend, looks like the rising sun.

Question 7 of 15

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How many of the world's bear species are endangered or vulnerable to extinction?

The giant panda and polar bear are poster children for endangered species but these aren’t the only bear species under threat. Six bear species are endangered or vulnerable. Brown bears are considered a species of least concern by IUCN, but some subspecies, such as the grizzly bear, are considered threatened or endangered. The American black bear is the only species considered safe throughout its range.

Question 8 of 15

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brown bear
Which is the largest of the brown bears?

The Kodiak bear is endemic only to the Kodiak archipelago off the coast of southwest Alaska, where the bears have grown to legend-inducing size. Males can grow to between 800-1400 pounds and when standing upright on its hind legs, can be up to 10 feet tall! Kodiak and polar bears are the largest land-based carnivores on Earth.

Question 9 of 15

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sloth bear portrait
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What is the favorite food of the sloth bear?

The long snout and sickle-shaped claws are the best clue that these bears are expert termite eaters. They locate termite mounds by smell, then use their long claws to break open the mound and get to the termites inside. They then use their specially adapted lower lip to suck the termites up with their muzzles like a vacuum cleaner, using a loud sucking sound that can be heard more than 100 meters away. They also dine on fruits, sugar cane and honey.

Question 10 of 15

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spectacled bear portrait
To which continent are spectacled bears native?

Spectacled bears are the only surviving species of bear native to South America. They are found only in the Andes mountains, which is why most scientists call them Andean bears. The more whimsical name is based on the species’ markings.

Question 11 of 15

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What color fur do giant panda cubs have when they’re first born?

When they're first born, giant panda cubs have sparse white hairs covering their pink skin. It isn't until about a week later that black patches appear on the skin to make them look  more panda-like. The black hair grows in after another couple weeks.

Question 12 of 15

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bear in cage
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For what industry do several Asian countries keep bears in cages?

Asiatic black bears, sun bears and brown bears are "farmed" by some Asian countries (including China, North Korea, South Korea, Laos, Vietnam and Myanmar)to collect their bile, a digestive juice stored in the gall bladder. Bear bile is sold as an ingredient in traditional Chinese medicine, though no scientific evidence exists showing that bear bile has any health benefit. Bears are usually kept in deplorable conditions and are killed by age 10, when their production drops off. Asiatic black bears and sun bears are both considered vulnerable to extinction.

Question 13 of 15

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giant panda eating apple
Giant pandas are 100-percent vegetarian.

Pandas are almost completely vegetarian. Though they are known for dining on their favorite food of bamboo, they do belong to the order Carnivora and will occasionally eat birds, rodents or carrion. Even so, bamboo represents about 99 percent of a giant panda's diet.

Question 14 of 15

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black bear on rock
Black bears are known as fast runners. How fast can they go?

Black bears can run like the wind, hitting speeds up to 30 miles per hour for short distances. Some sources say even 35 miles per hour is possible. Either way, don’t try to outrun a black bear — or out-climb one for that matter. They're much more athletic than they look!

Question 15 of 15

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honey in bear jars
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What species is also known as the honey bear?

The sun bear is also known as the honey bear, a head nod to its intense affinity for honeycombs and honey. When they aren't hoovering up termites or ants, they are probably on the hunt for honey. Other names by which the sun bear is known include the dog bear for its small size and the Malay bear for the part of the world where it's located.