Baby Polar Bears Emerge From Winter Hibernation (PICTURES)

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First Posted: 5/03/2012 11:36 Updated: 8/03/2012 10:46

Source: Barcroft Media

Playfully clambering over their doting mother these polar bear cubs spring into action for the most sociable time of the year.

Across the polar regions from Norway to Canada these images show the intimate relationship between polar bear mothers and their young as they emerge from their winter hibernation.

Photographers with Steve Bloom Images have Steve Bloom spent hundreds of hours in the arctic regions photographing the amazing interactions from lounging around in the snow to diving head first into the icy waters looking for food.

“The polar bear's presence is entirely transitory, with photography dependent on accurate timing, the right weather and exceptional luck,” said Steve.

"Imagine a world without polar bears. It seems unthinkable, yet as climate change gathers pace, the Arctic ice floes upon which the polar bear depends are beginning to break up.

"In the years ahead, this could be catastrophic for this truly charismatic bear which, when it stands up, is taller than the largest elephant.

"The irony is that the polar bear represents one of conservation’s greatest successes: thanks to an international convention controlling the hunting of the species."

Polar beats follow a natural two war life cycle. Each winter, females dig dens, where they give birth to their cubs – usually two, but sometimes as many as four.

The timing of the birth is sometime during early winter between December and January.

The snow den, mother’s body heat, and her milk, which is high in fat content, enables the cubs to keep warm and grow rapidly before leaving the den in March or April.

Short trips are made to and from the den for several days as the cubs get used to the outside temperatures. Then the family leaves and makes its way to the sea ice where the mother teaches, hunts for and protects her cubs.

After two years together, the family disperses and the cycle begins again.

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Filed by Sara C Nelson  |