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PRI's Environmental News Magazine

The Living on Earth Almanac

Air Date: Week of January 15, 1999

This week, facts about... the white Kermode bear of British Columbia.

Transcript

KNOY: More than 200 years ago this week, scientists in Boston exhibited a bear cub to astounded observers. It was the first time the United States public had a chance to glimpse a polar bear. Most of the spectator left the exhibit assuming polar bears were the world's only white bears. But in 1905, Dr. William Hornaday described a creature he discovered off the coast of British Columbia. It was a bear with white fur that was the offspring of bears with a black coat. He named the bear Americanus Kermode, or Kermode for short. The creature is a member of the black bear family, but a rare recessive gene enables 2 Kermode bears with black fur to give birth to a white cub. Only about 100 of the Kermode remain. Forty years ago the northern American temperate rainforest stretched from northern California through most of Alaska. Today the only Kermode habitat left is on remote islands off British Columbia. And for this week, that's the Living on Earth Almanac.

 

 

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