When somebody hear, that I spent over two years in Arctic and Antarctic, the first question is “Have you seen the polar bear/penguin?” (choose the right one). The same is true for lessons and workshops for students. But they very often have creative questions, that adults are too shy to ask.
What are they? Let’s go through the typical ones (remember – none of them is silly; every is inspiring, and encouraging to search for the answer):
1. Have you ever eaten polar bear/penguin? (again choose the right one)
My favourite question. No, and I won’t. On Spitsbergen commercial hunting for polar bears has been prohibited since 1973. The same is on King George Island in Antarctic – you are not allowed neither to kill nor hurt animals (many species are endangered). However, e.g. you can learn from Roald Amundsen’s diary, written during his first expedition to the Antarctic on “Belgica” ship, that penguin’s meat tastes like duck’s, but it is important to remove the fat before cooking not to spoil the taste.
2. Can human make friendship with penguins?
Unfortunately not. I know, that they are so cute, and we all watch “The Penguins of Madagascar” movie. Remember, that penguins are wild animals, they don’t know the humans, and treat us as a danger. Meeting with us, they are frightened, and very often try to escape or defend their colony and chicks against us. We are only guests in their natural habitat, and have to be obeyed to the nature’s rules. One of them is not to disturb.
3. Do penguins have knees?
Have you ever checked that query in Google? Not yet? You might be surprised how many people did it (I have searched for numbers, and in Polish search results this phrase has on average 390 displays per month). Penguins do have knees, even if they are walking in an characteristic way, wobbling from left to the right.
4. Do the polar bears have snow white fur?
Not really, it is rather ivory. The lightest fur color have cubs, and small bears. Then, the color is changing with the animal’s age, and old polar bears’ (they might live up to 20 years) fur is turning yellow.
5. What are polar bears doing in winter? Do they fall asleep?
Now it is you turn;) I invite you for searching to find the answer. Here are some tips – check it out in our Polarpedia (http://polarpedia.eu/en/) entries “polar bear” and “hibernation”. Good luck!
I bet, you have more questions about polar bears and penguins. Let’s enroll for my lessons in June then! Be invited for the lessons “Polar bear vs. penguin” in English on 8th at 06:00 UTC (http://edu-arctic.eu/program/lessons/107), and in Polish on 22nd at 06:00 UTC (http://edu-arctic.eu/program/lessons/106). See you!
Author: Dagmara Bozek-Andryszczak
Photo: Gentoo penguins in the vicinity of Polish Antarctic Station “Arctowski” (author: Piotr Andryszczak)