Thursday, April 30, 2009

Know your Bears!

It's April 30th, National Bear Awareness Day! (Factually untrue!) So let's take a moment to learn a bit about those lovable critters best known for banjo-playing and trainer-mauling.

ANDEAN BEAR (Tremarctos Ornatus):
The Andean, or spectacled, Bear is a small black bear with cream-colored facial markings around it's eyes which give it the name. They are typically found in Venezuela, Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru. An excellent tree climber, several of the Andean bears were brought down to Argentina to fight alongside Che Guevara to middling success.

Diet: Fruit, bromeliads, rodents, insects, churros, hot pockets.

Social Organizations: Little is known about the behavior of these shy forest bears. It is believed that they are mostly nocturnal, and spend their nights playing Magic: The Gathering in self-made tree nests.


A medium sized bear, the Black Bear can be found in many color phases from black, chocolate brown, cinnamon brown, pale blue, white, and technicolor dreamcoat. They are found in the United States, Northern Mexico, and all provinces and territories of Canada except Prince Edward Island (F those guys, right? They don't deserve black bears).

Diet: Nuts, berries, fruit, acorns, roots, grasses, insects, deer, salmon, tourists.

Social Organization: Black bears are usually solitary animals, choosing to go with the whole "Johnny Cash thing." They will leave territorial signposts through scent-marking, claw marks in trees, and sloppily-painted lawn signs that read "Bear wuz here." Some have been known to wear floppy hats and drink out of jugs marked "X X X"

ASIATIC BLACK BEAR (Ursus Thibetanus):

Blackish in color, with lighter muzzles and a distinct V-shaped patch of cream color on their chest, the Asiatic Black Bear has ears that appear to be much bigger than those of other bears, which results in cruel playground mockery and the Asiatic often sitting alone, tossing a tennis ball against a wall and crying little bear tears. They can be found in Southern Asia, including Northern India, Southern China, Korea, Japan and in eastern parts of the former Soviet Union, where they are often seen socializing with fallen comic Yakov Smirnoff.

Diet: Insects, small mammals and birds, carrion, bees nests, bubble tape, fruit, and bear claws (how ironic).

Social Organization: Little is known about this bear in the wild, except that they are nocturnal. It has been reported that most of them are hard at work on "the great American novel," which is weird since they live in Asia.

BROWN BEAR (Ursus Arctos):
One of the largest and most widely-distributed species of bear, they are often known for their white-tipped guard hairs that give them a "grizzled" appearance, hence the term Grizzly Bear. They can be found in many parts of the world, including Hollywood, where many lose out on auditions to The Edge and Legends of the Fall star Bart the Bear, who has let success go to his head and is no longer the humble, hard-working bear he once was. "He just mauls now cuz he can," said rival Bearactor Ben the Bear.

Diet: Grasses, fruits, bulbs, roots, insects, fish, Chick-fil-A.

Social Organization: The brown bear is fiercely territorial, often yelling at/mauling kids that won't "get off my lawn!" They hold yearly fight clubs, which I am not at liberty to talk about.

GIANT PANDA (Ailuropoda Melanoleuca):
A small black and white bear with an infantile appearance due to its shortened muzzle and large black fur eye patches, the Giant Panda can be found in mountain ranges in the provinces of Sichuan, Shaanxi, and Gansu in Western China. They can also be found staring sadly at that little shithead kid who keeps pounding on the glass at your local zoo.

Diet: Primarily bamboo, and occasionally P.F. Changs and Panda Express, because they feel they have to.

Social Organization: Pandas are basically solitary, but they can have the occasional game night with neighboring pandas. They are seriously sick of playing Apples to Apples, but they prefer it to Cranium or Celebrity (which they find infuriating, because they "just don't know who that is!")

POLAR BEAR (Ursus Maritimus):
Polar Bears are the largest bear species, weighing in between 440 and 1,760 pounds. However, most are hoping to weigh in around 330 by the finale of "Biggest Loser: Polar Bears." They can be found in Greenland, Norway, the former Soviet Union, Canada, and Alaska (where they will leave you alone unless you "ask about Sarah Palin ONE MORE TIME...")

Diet: Seals, walruses, narwhal, beluga, horses, children, wolverines, unicorns, bridge trolls, golems, the cast of Frasier.

Social Organization: Solitary, though have been known to come together for concerts by the band Sum 41. No accounting for taste. They also like to play with giant chess pieces, as seen in the photo above.

SLOTH BEAR (Melursus Ursinus):
A medium sized bear with a very shaggy coat of black fur, with grey and brown hairs mixed in, this lazy bastard of a bear just doesn't care what he looks like anymore, much like your sad Uncle Robert. It is found in India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan and Sri Lanka, mostly mooching off of the free WiFi at local coffee shops without buying anything.

Diet: Mostly termites. I mean, c'mon, just get out of bed and cook SOMETHING.

Social Organization: Fairly solitary, except when they get enough energy up to get together and "jam in the garage."

SUN BEAR (Helarctos Malayanus):
The smallest of bears, with a body length of 48 to 60 inches, they have short, sleek black fur with a golden or white colored crescent shape on their chest and the same color on their muzzles and around their eyes. They are tired of you saying "Awwww....I just wanna put 'em in my pocket!" They are found in southeast Asia, primarily in India, Burma, Laos, Vietnam and Thailand, where they can be found palin' around with sailors on shore leave in Bangkok.

Diet: Birds, small mammals, termites, tips of palm trees, bees, most of the menu at Norm's.

Social Organization: Being small and meek, they tend to hide in small groups. If threatened, they will come together to form one giant sun bear, which has earned them the nickname "Nature's Voltron."

Hope this was helpful! (And some of it IS true!)