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Polar bears can't conserve energy during fasting

Published:Thursday | July 16, 2015 | 3:59 PM
Two polar bear cubs follow their mother


A study of polar bears in Alaska concludes that they have no special ability to minimise energy loss during increasing periods of fasting.

Opportunities for polar bears to kill and eat ringed seals have dropped as summer sea ice has diminished because of climate warming.

The study by university, federal and private researchers over three years concludes that longer periods of fasting will have harmful effects.

The research rejects the idea that polar bears can avoid harmful declines in body condition in a sort of "walking hibernation", as suggested by 1970s research.

The paper published Thursday in the journal Science instead concludes that polar bears have no such ability to conserve energy and that they react like other mammals when faced with limited food.