Walking and resting
- Most plantigrade (soles flat to the ground similar to humans) of all the Carnivora.
- Dogs and cats are digitigrade (stand on toes with most of sole elevated).
- Digitigrade animals tend to be faster than plantigrade animals partly because of a longer stride.
- Top speed recorded: 11 m/sec (25 mph).
- Top speed for digitigrade lion and wolf: 35-40 mi/hr.
- Speed sacrificed in favor of tremendous strength/mobility of limb movement
- Prefer lying down and still-hunting to chasing prey due to energy costs of running.
- Move with ease and agility over rough terrain and jumbled ice floes.
- Nearly all carnivores are excellent swimmers; polar bear has oarlike forepaws.
- Forelimbs and large forepaws propel animal forward with a stroke like a dog swimming
- Hind limbs trail behind serving as a rudder.
- Head and shoulders held above water.
- Swimming rate about 6.5 km/hr.
- Able to swim up to 15 miles easily.
- Adapted for swimming near-shore.
- Some reports of longer swims in recent years.
- DeMaster and Stirling (1981) – 40 mile swim across open water.
- Longer swims, especially in open seas with waves can be dangerous
- As ice packs melt, bears in some areas swim farther across open water
- Researchers report a radio-collared female in the Beaufort Sea swam continuously for 687 km (427 miles) over 9 days and then swam and walked an additional 1,800 km (1,118 mi); she lost 22% of her body mass and her yearling cub (Durner et al. 2011)
- Reports on the increase of bear drownings.
Source: San Diego Zoo wildlife Alliance Library
Manager’s Office Team