Polar Bear Perceptions

Do you remember this:

Well, I barely began school when the Coca-Cola Polar Bear commercials began and I loved them – the bears were so fluffy and cute and white! I even won a soft, mid-sized teddy bear from one of the Coke’s Christmas promos in Bulgaria and it became my favorite stuffed toy. So imagine my disappointment when I found out the polar bear’s fur isn’t white at all. It’s almost see-through.

Polar bear fur close-up
Polar bear fur close-up

The animal’s skin is black in order to absorb sun rays and keep the bear warm in the cold Arctic climate. The polar bear’s fur contains keratin (just as people’s nails) and looks colorless, almost transparent. Because the individual, longer top strands are hollow (inner layer isn’t), they diffuse light making the fur appear white. The hollowness, or strands containing air, acts as an insulator.

Another trivia tidbit I discovered looking for information about a polar bear’s fur – it can seem green:

The color, as the video mentioned, can form within the fur or even inside each strand due to the algae in the zoo pond waters.

Polar bears can look purple, too:

Polar Bear turned purple at the Mendoza City Zoo.
Polar Bear turned purple at the Mendoza City Zoo.

A 23-year-old bear at the Mendoza City Zoo in Argentina suffered from dermatitis and the treatment spray had the unusual side-effect of changing her fur to purple. Apparently, the color washed off in a few days.

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2 thoughts on “Polar Bear Perceptions

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