November 01, 2007

Polar Bears on Thin Ice 

Of the seven short-listed finalists in the World Wildlife Fund’s (WWF) poll for the world’s cutest animal, half are endangered or under threat. 

The huge arctic polar bear (Ursus maritimus) is one such contender. And just what is it about a giant, ferocious carnivore that can crush a seal’s skull with one blow from its massive paw that engenders such affection in another mammal (us) that would otherwise be its prey? 

Despite their fearsome reputation, polar bears are majestic, social, caring, intelligent beasts with an imploring, puppy-dog look that seems to say, “go on, give us a cuddle.” But that is the last thing you’d want to do to the world’s largest terrestrial carnivore. 

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