Polar Bears in Popular Culture

Facts and Information


You will find that Polar Bears are a big part of the culture in many locations. The people of the Arctic have long regarded them as something special due to the fact that they only live in this part of the world, with the exception of those in captivity. Even very early cave paintings that are dated at least 1,500 years ago portray them around the area of the Chukchi Peninsula. There are suggestions in the paintings and even remains of polar bears that suggest that the people of the Arctic learned how to survive in this terrain by mocking the Polar Bears in regards to their hunting skills and even construction of igloos for shelter.

There are plenty of folk tales of the Eskimos and Inuit that have been told orally from one generation to the next. They talk about the legends of the Polar Bears including humans being bears in some instances. They also talk about the constellations that show an outline of a Polar Bear that is surrounded by dogs. All of these stories show a great deal of love and respect for the Polar Bear from the people in these cultures. They show them to be very similar to humans but they also show them to be of a spiritual power as well.

Many of these stories talk about how the postures of the bear and the human are the same when they are in the positions of sitting and standing. In these cultures, it is often believed that the bear and human spirits could be interchanged. Some of the oldest stories of the Eskimos talk about the Polar Bear teaching humans how to hunt. In the Inuit culture, the Great Spirit Tuurngasuk is a Polar Bear.

Around the world, you will see plenty of symbols of this bear all over the place. They have a very distinct appearance and that has made them noticeable and identifiable on various levels. One of the two dollar coins of Canada, called the Canadian Toonie, has a Polar Bear featured on it. There are also Polar Bear shaped license plates in various areas of Canada. In 1988, it was selected as the mascot for the 1988 Winter Olympics. A few well known colleges also use the Polar Bear as a mascot including the University of Alaska (Fairbanks) and Bowdoin College located in Maine.

Advertising is also well known and associated with the Polar Bear theme. Since 1922 Fox Glacier Mints have used Peppy in their marketing. Perhaps the best use of the Polar Bear in marketing is through Coca-Cola. Many people look forward to the annual commercials they offer for the holidays as well as to be featured in the Super Bowl with the Polar Bears enjoying this well-known beverage.

There are books too that include the theme of the Polar Bear. Some of them such as the Polar Bear Son are from Inuit tales. One of the bestselling literary works with them is by Philip Pullman. These materials were the basis for the film The Golden Compass. Other films have a message that is loud in clear to those that watch. The idea is to educate about the life of the Polar Bear and the facts about their future if conservation efforts aren’t continued.

In 2007, the documentary an Arctic Tale came out by National Geographic. It gave a powerful look at the daily life and struggles of a female and her young. Another great material is the book called The Last Polar Bear: Facing the Truth of a Warming World. It documents how the changes in temperature in the Arctic have created problems for the Polar Bear when it comes to being able to successfully hunt for enough food to survive.


Related Articles