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Polar Bear Cubs in Spring – Photographs by Multiple Photographers

Each spring polar bear cubs emerge from their dens to see the world for the first time.

At the start of winter, female polar bears dig dens where they give birth to their cubs – usually two, but sometimes as many as four. The cubs are tiny and completely defenceless, but buried deep in the snow the den is cosy and the cubs grow quickly, nourished by their mother’s rich milk. By March or April the female is lean and hungry, and the cubs are big enough to face the outside world, so they leave the den to hunt for seals on the sea ice. The cubs stay with their mother for 2 years as she teaches them to hunt and take care of themselves.

The sight of these magnificent animals is an awe-inspiring experience for photographers. “Their presence is entirely transitory, with photography dependent on accurate timing, the right weather – and exceptional luck” says photographer Steve Bloom.

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. The largest meat-eating land animal in the world continues to rule the freezing, ice-packed northern Arctic – but unless the world gets to grips with climate change and prevents the further disintegration of those ice packs, the polar bear’s future may be as bleak as an Arctic winter.

Photographs by: Steve Bloom, Nick Garbutt, Patricio Robles Gil/Biosphoto, Fred Bruemmer / Biosphoto, Gilles Martin / Biosphoto, Alain Pons / Biosphoto, Pierre Vernay / Biosphoto, Samuel Blanc / Biosphoto

Polar Bear mother with young cubs, Manitoba,  Canada.
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Polar bear and cub, Cape Churchill, Manitoba, Canada
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Polar Bears on ice floe, Woodfjorden, northern Spitsbergen, Svalbard, Arctic Norway.
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Polar Bear mother with young cub, Manitoba,  Canada.
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Polar Bear mother nursing young cubs, Manitoba,  Canada.
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Polar Bear mother nursing young cubs, Manitoba,  Canada.
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Polar bear mother and cub, Cape Churchill, Manitoba, Canada
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Polar bear, Cape Churchill, Manitoba, Canada
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Two polar bear families walking on ice, Cape Churchill, Manitoba, Canada
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Polar bears nuzzling,  Cape Churchill, Manitoba, Canada
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Polar bears sparring, Cape Churchill, Manitoba, Canada
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Polar bear plunge into the water Sweden (Polar bear)
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Female Polar bear and her cub on a dead whale Norway (Polar bear)
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Polar Bear young on a dead whale in Spitzbergen Norway (Polar bear)
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Polar bear splashing in water  (Polar bear)
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Portrait of Polar Bear Churchill Canada (Polar bear)
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Polar bear rubbing his chest on snow, Canada
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Underside of the feet of a resting polar bear, Canada 
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Polar bear and arctic fox in the snow, Canada
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Polar bear pulling its prey out of the water, Svalbard, Norway
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