Test Your Polar Bear IQ in Honor of Polar Bear Week

The polar bear—the most iconic animal of the arctic—has been bestowed many names by the people who have shared time and space with this magnificent creature: Ursus maritimus. Sea Bear. Ice Bear. Nanuq. Isbjorn. White bear. Sailor of the Floes. God’s Dog. Lord of the Arctic. Old man in the fur cloak. White sea deer. While all these names are still used by the people who share their icy land, the polar bear is now also being called “ambassador for the climate.”

As our planet heats up, we are no longer talking about the canary in the coal mine, but rather the polar bear in the arctic. Thus, unbeknownst to the polar bear, who is just trying to survive in an increasingly confusing world with less ice, fewer prey and more toxins, his very image is the call to action for all nations across the globe. The call to save the world not only for polar bears, but also for ourselves.

So, in honor of International Polar Bear Week (Nov 1st – Nov 7th) and this white fuzzy oh-so-lovable ambassador for climate action, take this informative quiz about polar bears and see just how much you know about this iconic snow bear.

On page two don’t miss the great links to polar webcams and other resources, courtesy of philanthropic media organization explore.org, in partnership with Polar Bears International and Frontiers North Adventures.

Test Your Polar Bear IQ

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Question 1
Polar bears can run how fast?
12 mph
24 mph
40 mph
60 mph
Question 1 Explanation: 
Polar bears generally prefer a mellow, plodding gait, but they can run as fast as 24 miles per hour—but only for short distances. Younger, leaner bears have the best stamina and can gallop across the tundra for a couple of miles without stopping. Older, heavier bears, quickly overheat.
Question 2
Polar fur is what color? (Hint: the answer is not so obvious!)
creamy yellow
pure white
light gray
Question 2 Explanation: 
Most people are surprised to learn that polar bears have evolved fur that is translucent and colorless. It only appears white to us because the fur reflects visible light. This adaptation allows them to blend in nearly seamlessly into their snowy environment. Polar bears in captivity often seem to have yellow and or green-tinged fur. The yellowing of the fur is due to age and dirt, while the greenish color is from the algae that can grow on polar bear fur in unnaturally warm and humid environments.
Question 3
Polar bears can chow down on how much blubber in a single meal?
30 pounds
100 pounds
300 pounds
Modern polar bears are on low-fat diets and do not eat blubber!
Question 4

polar bear close up


Reindeer, one of the polar bear’s occasional prey, have developed which unique strategy for steering clear of hungry predators:

the ability to burrow quickly under a snow drift, thus hiding their scent
the ability to see in ultra-violet light
the ability to tweet warnings to fellow reindeer
the ability to smell polar bears up to 20 – 25 miles away
Question 4 Explanation: 
Polar bear fur, as noted in question #2 is not actually white, but colorless. It only appears white because it reflects visible light. To humans and other creatures that see only in visible light, polar bears blend in nearly seamlessly with their snowy environment. However, reindeer have outsmarted the polar bear’s tricky fur by evolving a visual system that can see in ultra-violet light, which means polar bears stand out like a sore thumb against their icy white backdrop.
Question 5
Polar bears have what color skin?
light pink
mottled black and white
Question 6

polar bear global warming

Newborn polar bears are how big when born?

about 12-14 inches long and about one pound
about 12 – 14 inches and about 5 pounds
about 22 – 24 inches long and 10 pounds
about 5 -10 inches and 1/2 pound
Question 7
Polar bears hibernate during the harshest winter months. True or False?
Question 7 Explanation: 
Unlike many of their cousins further south, polar bears do not hibernate through the winter. A mother polar bear does use a den to give birth to and raise her cubs (typically between January and March). To accommodate this homebound period, mama polar bears do engage in hibernation-like behavior such as refraining from eating, drinking and defecating.
Question 8
Polar bear cubs typically nurse for how long?
3 months
1 year
2.5 years
4 years
Question 9

The largest recorded male polar bear was how big?

750 pounds and 9 feet tall
3,000 pounds and 14 feet tall
the equivalent of four elephants and 13 feet tall
the equivalent of a dozen men and 11 ft tall
Question 9 Explanation: 
A typical adult male polar bear will tip the scales at 775 to 1,200 pounds, or the weight of about a half-dozen men. However, according to Polar Bear International, the largest polar bear ever recorded was a male weighing a whopping 2,209 pounds, equal to about a dozen men and 11 feet tall. In contrast, adult females typically weigh about half of the average male barely tipping the scales at a measly (by polar bear standards) 330 to 650 pounds.
Question 10
Polar bears have evolved which skill that helps them track down their next meal in the vast arctic tundra?
a highly-attuned sniffer
an ability to feel subtle vibrations through ice with their massive paw pads
infrared eyesight
GPS navigation
Question 10 Explanation: 
Polar bear noses are highly-attuned sensory organs that can track a seal on land up to 20 miles away! They can also sniff out a seal’s breathing hole in the ice more than half a mile away, even if the seal is under water.
Question 11
Two-thirds of polar bears could disappear by 2050? True or False?
Question 11 Explanation: 
Thanks to global warming, our planet continues to heat and polar sea ice continues to melt. Polar bears depend upon sea ice to hunt, and studies predict our planet will warm to the point where enough sea ice annually melts to lead to the disappearance of two-thirds of polar bears by 2050. The current decline in sea ice is already forcing polar bears to swim such long distances that they are drowning from exhaustion.
Question 12

polar bear swimming

When a polar bear gives another polar bear a “nose kiss,” what is he or she communicating?

please share your food with me
cubs nose kiss their mother to express that they are cold and want to return to the den
please play with me
you are one hot polar bear
Question 12 Explanation: 
A Nose-to-nose salutation is the polite way a bear asks another bear for something, such as food. For example, the guest bear will approach cautiously, circle around a carcass, and then submissively touch the other bear’s nose which is essentially the question, “may I?”
Question 13
Due to environmental changes, polar bear cubs do what now that they rarely did in the recent past?
cannibalize siblings
stay in their mother’s care and nurse for twice as long
stay in the maternity den twice as long
leave the maternal den twice as fast
Question 13 Explanation: 
Today, due to climate change and other environmental factors, prey is not as dense as it was in recent past, so cubs now often stay with their mother for two-and-a-half to three years. Historically, Hudson Bay polar bears weaned in half that time due in part to abundant prey that allowed young bears to set off on their own more easily.
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global warming polar bears

To learn more about polar bears and/or get more involved in their protection, check-out these resources:


Upcoming 2015 Polar Bear Live Chat Schedule

Live Chats are hosted by arctic scientist, Alysa McCall, and are shorter and more informal than webcasts. To register for webcasts or join live chats, click here.


Thursday, November 5, 10:30 am

Polar Bears in Berets

Maybe you have heard of the upcoming Paris climate talks, but why should you care? Tune in to hear our experts explain the importance of COP21, what this Paris conference means to polar bears, and how we can all help protect the future for polar bears, and people too.

Guests: Kassie Siegel, Andy Derocher


Friday, November 6, 11 am

It’s Polar Bear Week!

Join top polar bear experts to talk about different polar bears populations and research all across the world and learn why the bears near Churchill, Manitoba, are so special. Hear about why your actions to conserve polar bears will help conserve all Arctic species, as well as the way of life of the people that also call this region home.

Guests: Andy Derocher, Geoff York


Tuesday, November 10, 2:30 pm

Polar Bears Around the World

The polar bears near Churchill, Manitoba, are pretty amazing, but did you know there are 18 other populations of polar bears in the world? None are quite the same! Take a journey with us around the world of polar bears to discuss the different areas they live in, the different people they live near, and the different research projects they are a part of. There is one thing they all have in common: sea ice.

Guests: Andy Derocher, Geoff York


Wednesday, November 11, 2 pm

Using STEM to Study Polar Bears

Technology has become a part of our daily life through cell phones, computers, vehicles, and more. But technological advances have also opened up the world of wildlife research and allowed us to learn incredible things about polar bears! Join our expert panelists to hear about how they use STEM to figure out this incredible white bear.

Guests: Nick Pilfold, Megan Owen



Christine J.
Christine J2 years ago

I learned a lot from this quiz. TFS.

Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallus2 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Valerie A.
Valerie A3 years ago


Elizabeth O.
Elizabeth O3 years ago

Thanks for the article.

Jennifer M.
Jennifer M3 years ago


Jude Sekar
Jude Sekar3 years ago

I stay in India, far far away from the polar bear's habitat. What action that I may implement help make better living for this hapless bear?

Debbie Hartman
DEBORAH Hartman3 years ago

Great info Thanks

Jeramie D.
Jeramie D3 years ago

I will retake this and hope I do better. i love polar bears. They must be saved.

donald Baumgartner

Woops, I didn't do so well !!!!

Rosemary H.
Rosemary H3 years ago

How many people know about the skywalking polar bear?

A lot more than last week, since he appeared in the latest natural history blockbuster narrated by David Attenborough. Since melting sea ice makes it so hard for polar bears to hunt as they always have done, this bear climbed 1000 feet up a cliff where guillemots breed to get away from predators (well... most predators..!) The eggs and nestlings he ate just about kept him going through the summer, which is how long he had to stay up there.

The cliff was so sheer that the rocks he dislodged rained down in the sea. I wonder--- did he eventually get down all right? Some birds stood up to him. If more bears came to try this balancing feat, wouldn't it be a matter of time until a bird really flapped his wings in a bear's face...?