bear family consists of eight species.
Although some species are reputed to be fierce and aggressive, bears are
typically peaceful, solitary creatures that prefer to roam areas undisturbed by
humans. Most bears are omnivores,
feeding on both plant and animal matter.
All eight species are threatened by habitat loss and from poaching, due
to a demand for bear parts, such as gall bladders and paws.
The American Black Bear is native only to North
America and is found in a variety of habitats. Black Bears are not always black! They may be cinnamon, blond, or bluish-gray
in color, and about 25 percent
of them have a white chest blaze.
Found throughout Southern Asia,
the Asiatic Black Bear, or Moon Bear, is similar to its American cousin but has
longer fur and is predominately black with a white, often V-shaped, patch of
fur on its chest.
Brown Bears (including Grizzly Bears) are
native throughout North America, Europe,
and Asia. With
home ranges as large as 500 square
miles, they require vast, remote areas of habitat to survive. Because of this, they have been eliminated
from much of their historic range. Their
fur may be colored white, black, or various shades of brown. Brown Bears have a slightly dished face and a
distinctive hump over their shoulders.
The largest Brown Bear ever recorded stood 14 feet tall and weighed over 1,600 pounds.
Long thought to be part of the raccoon
family, the Giant Panda has been officially classified as a bear since 1995. Native only to China,
pandas subsist almost entirely on bamboo.
To protect them from bamboo splinters while feeding, the panda’s
esophagus has a tough, horny lining and its stomach has a thick, muscular
Polar Bears are the largest of the bear
species, weighing up to 1,700
pounds. They are found circumpolar in
the Artic, where their white fur helps them blend into their environment. With their partially webbed paws, they are
excellent swimmers and can swim for long distances.
The Sloth Bear, found in the forests and
grasslands of India,
Sri Lanka, Bangladesh,
Nepal, and Bhutan,
has a black, shaggy coat with a cream-colored, U- or Y-shaped patch of fur on
its chest. Adult Sloth Bears lack upper
incisors, which creates a gap in their mouths through which they are able to
extend their long, lower lips, forming a tube for feeding. They use this tube to suck up termites and
ants, making loud sucking noises that can be heard over 350 feet away.
They are also able to close their nostrils at will to prevent ants and
termites from getting in and to help create more vacuum while they are sucking.
The Spectacled Bear inhabits the Andes
Mountains of South
America. Their fur is brown
or black, and they get their name from distinctive cream-colored bands that
encircle their eyes. They are excellent
tree climbers and build nests in trees for sleeping.
Found in the lowland rainforests of Southeast
Asia, the Sun Bear is the smallest of all bears, weighing only 60 to 145 pounds.
Its coat is made of short, sleek, black hairs. It has a golden- or white-colored crescent
shape on its chest and the same coloring also around its eyes.
In the Bible, God used two she-bears to
bring judgment upon 42 youths
who mocked and ridiculed Elisha. (See Prophets and Kings, 235,
236.) It is a serious
thing to speak against God’s chosen servants who are called upon to do a work
for Him. “To accuse and criticize those
whom God is using is to accuse and criticize the Lord who has sent them.” Testimonies
to Ministers and Gospel Workers, 466.
Arbour writes from his home in DeQueen,
Arkansas. He may be contacted by e-mail