Wild Baby Polar Bear
This 8-month-old polar bear is out of his warm den and having the best of time. He and his sister have been snuggled up with their mother over the winter and are now thrilled to be able to play- tumbling and wrestling with each other in a game that will teach them the crucial skills needed to defend themselves. But his mother is worried. Every year she has seen the sea ice declining further and further. She worries about her cubs and how they will find food without coming into contact with humans.
A descendent of the brown bear, the polar bear is the only bear who is considered a marine mammal. They spend the majority of their time on the freezing sea ice, and are completely dependent on the ocean for both their food and habitat. They are very strong swimmers, with large front paws and slightly webbed back feet, which enables them to swim continually for days at a time. Their thick fur which is crucial for keeping them warm, is not actually white but translucent, reflecting the snow around them which gives them their well known colour. Their skin, on the other hand, is black.
Polar bears live solitary lives, learning all the skills necessary with their mother and sibling (usually polar bears give birth to twins), before heading out on their own. The mother will usually give birth in winter, digging a den deep in a snowdrift to protect her cubs and provide them with some insulation from the freezing outdoors. Mother polar bears start their winters in hibernation, and even once her cubs are born, she continues to fast while still feeding her cubs on milk. When the weather starts to warm, the mother will break out of the den, feeding on whatever vegetation she can find, while her cubs play and find their feet. When they are ready, they will start the long walk to the sea ice where the mother can hunt for seals. The cubs will stay with her for 28 months before she chases them away, forcing them to become independent.
Despite their stereotype for being aggressive, the polar bear is not territorial and will often choose to run away rather than fight. Polar bears will usually only attack if they are severely provoked or hungry. But this doesn’t mean they aren’t dangerous, as the largest of all bears, this is not an animal you would want to cross.
With Arctic sea ice cover declining by about 14% per decade, the polar bear is coming into trouble. With less sea ice to hunt on, polar bears are forced into areas inhabited by humans to search for food. This can be dangerous for both bear and human. They are also threatened by our industrial exploits that are becoming more and more frequent in the Arctic: the hunt for oil. Not only is this a disturbance and taking away more of their homes, but an oil spill could devastate them and the entire Arctic ecosystem. It is so important to look for alternatives to help protect these precious bears, and all the other animals who call this wintery wonderland home.
This cub is ready to explore his snowy home. He has been tucked in a den for winter and now it’s time for him to play and get used to his legs before his long walk to the sea ice. His biggest threats are other polar bears who may try to kill him and habitat loss from the warming temperatures, leaving his species vulnerable. #wildaboutbabies #lovethelast
HOW TO HELP
Based off real animals that Gillie and Marc met while travelling, the public will be able to meet individual animals.
Through public art, more people will come into contact with these sculptures, will stop and consider them, will take a photograph, and will discuss this with their friends and family. With this increased exposure, the message of love, family, and conservation will be spread much further than any piece of art in a gallery ever could. It will bring people into close contact and will help them to fall in love, and with love comes a greater urge to want to create a change and save all endangered animals.
The sculpture will be aligned with the hashtags #LoveTheLast and #wildaboutbabies to raise unparalleled awareness about the sculpture’s cause across the globe.