Bears are mammals of the family Ursidae. Bears are classified as caniforms, or doglike carnivorans, with the pinnipeds being their closest living relatives. Although there are only eight living species of bear, they are widespread, appearing in a wide variety of habitats throughout the Northern Hemisphere and partially in the Southern Hemisphere. Bears are found on the continents of North America, South America, Europe, and Asia.
Common characteristics of modern bears include a large body with stocky legs, a long snout, shaggy hair, plantigrade paws with five nonretractile claws, and a short tail. While the polar bear is mostly carnivorous and the giant panda feeds almost entirely on bamboo, the remaining six species are omnivorous, with varied diets.
With the exceptions of courting individuals and mothers with their young, bears are typically solitary animals. They are generally diurnal, but may be active during the night (nocturnal) or twilight (crepuscular), particularly around humans. Bears are aided by an excellent sense of smell, and despite their heavy build and awkward gait, they can run quickly and are adept climbers and swimmers. In autumn, some bear species forage large amounts of fermented fruits, which affects their behaviour. Bears use shelters, such as caves and burrows, as their dens: most species occupy their dens during the winter for a long period of sleep similar to hibernation.
Bears have been hunted since prehistoric times for their meat and fur. To this day, they play a prominent role in the arts, mythology, and other cultural aspects of various human societies. In modern times, the bear's existence has been pressured through the encroachment on its habitats and the illegal trade of bears and bear parts, including the Asian bile bear market. The IUCN lists six bear species as vulnerable or endangered, and even least concern species such as the brown bear are at risk of extirpation in certain countries. The poaching and international trade of these most threatened populations are prohibited, but still ongoing.
Other articles related to "bear, bears":
... In Japanese culture, the black bear is traditionally associated with the mountain spirit (yama no kami) and is characterised variously as "mountain man" (yamaotoko), "mountain uncle" (yama no ossan), "mountain father ... Being a largely solitary creature, the bear is also viewed as "lonely person" (sabishigariya) ... Black bears feature very little in lowland Japanese folklore, but are prominent in upland Japan, a fact thought to reflect the bear's greater economic value in upland areas ...
... Woolly bear can mean The hairy caterpillars of the Arctiidae family of moths The hairy caterpillar of the Arctic Woolly Bear Moth (Gynaephora groenlandica) The larva of the varied carpet beetle ...
... There are two Bear constellations Ursa Major constellation - the Great Bear, contains the Big Dipper Ursa Minor constellation - the Small Bear, contains the Little ...
... Asian black bears are reproductively compatible with several other bear species, and have on occasion produced hybrid offspring ... to Jack Hanna's Monkeys on the Interstate, a bear captured in Sanford, Florida was thought to have been the offspring of an escaped female Asian black bear and an American black bear, and Scherren's ... In 1975, within Venezuela's "Las Delicias" Zoo, a female black bear shared its enclosure with a spectacled bear, and produced several hybrid descendants ...
... on any area roads indicating directions to or the location of Bear ... The Bear interchange on Delaware Route 1 points to Elkton, Maryland and the mysterious "State Road" ... Route 7, which passes through the original "downtown" village of Bear, uses Red Lion and Christiana for directional signs ...
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