Polar Bear Communication
Posted in CSR
  • Bear vocalization (and hearing) not well known.
    • Knowledge of the bears’ hearing range important for establishing effects of noise disturbance on these bears. (Owen 2007)
  • Females and cubs use chuffing call with each other.
    • 1-32 low intensity sound pulses emitted in rapid succession
    • Most frequent in cub’s early months.
  • Chuffing call infrequent in adults; may signal stress/agitation.
  • Bears snort /chuff, growl, and chomp teeth when aggressive
  • Polar Bears raised in managed care “groaned and chuffed” when presented with underwater call of Ringed Seals (their favored prey). (Cushing et al 1988)
  • Preliminary investigations of acoustic communication in Polar Bears indicate they can produce low frequency sounds. (Owen 2009)

Olfactory and visual signals

  • Highly developed sense of smell.
    • Detect breathing holes of Ringed Seal from at least 1 kilometer (.6 mi)
  • Use of scents (pheromones) not documented but probably present when males seek females.
    • Adult male may walk 10 km in a straight line in search of a breeding female’s track.
    • Once track crossed, recognition is instantaneous and he will proceed until he catches up to her.
  • Limited number of visual facial signals. (Kurt 1990)
    • Facial muscles poorly developed.
    • Unlike highly social cats and wolves, solitary lifestyle doesn’t require elaborate mechanisms for group coexistence.

Source: San Diego Zoo wildlife Alliance Library

Manager’s Office Team

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