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Every February 27, the world celebrates International Polar Bear Day. Started ten years ago by US-based nonprofit Polar Bear International (PMI) it is observed to raise awareness of the vulnerable species whose rapidly dwindling numbers are often forgotten because they dwell in the sparsely populated circumpolar Arctic.
However, it is difficult to ignore the plight of the majestic animals when we see pictures of Nora, a polar bear cub that resides at Ohio's Columbus Zoo and Aquarium. Born on November 6, the adorable baby bear whose name was selected by fans via an Internet poll is one of two cubs born to the zoo's resident polar bears, Nanuq and Aurora.
Unfortunately, one cub died soon after birth. Though tragic, it is not unusual given that the survival rate for newborn polar bears in captivity is just 50%. In fact, Nora's survival is an anomaly given that none of the polar bear cubs born at the Ohio zoo in the past 27 years have lived beyond the first few weeks.
In honor of International Polar Bear Day, the zoo released photos and an update on their precious resident. Turns out that Nora, who was just 1.5 pounds, when born, now weighs an impressive 29 pounds. To ensure that she continues to grow, her keepers have begun supplementing her diet of formula and mashed food with meat. The officials say Nora is very independent and loves to play with her toys especially when she is in the pool. Her favorites? A traffic cone and a boomer ball!
Unfortunately, the polar bears in the wild are not as lucky as Nora. There are currently believed to be just 20,000 to 25,000 polar bears left in the wild. Experts believe that if the sea ice continues to melt at the current pace that number could dwindle down to one-third within a few years. The only way to prevent that from happening is to reverse or, at least, stop global warming.
The good news according to PMI is that we can all help save the gorgeous animals from disappearing with a few simple actions. Since energy produced from carbon-based fuels like coal are major contributors to greenhouse gas emissions, a good place to start is by reducing our energy usage.
Amongst the things they suggest is adjusting the thermostat up or down by a few degrees depending on the season. Another great way to save energy is making sure that our homes are well insulated. This will ensure that heat does not escape (during winter) or enter (during summer) the house and thus alleviate the need for excessive heating and air conditioning.
The nonprofit estimates that if everyone in the country follows the two strategies, we will save the amount of energy consumed annually by the State of Ohio and cut as much Carbon dioxide as emitted by 1,600,000 gallons of gasoline. If the entire world implements them, the results would be even more powerful. In addition to helping the environment, these measures will also help our pocketbooks!
Hopefully, Nora's adorable images will spur Americans and people worldwide to make small lifestyle changes so that we can save not just the polar bears but also other animals being impacted by climate change. Want to know more about polar bears? Be sure to check the video below.
Resources: Nbc4i.com, dispatch.com, polarbearsinternational.org