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Perhaps one of the land’s most extraordinary valuable of inestimable worth are bears. Bears, their physique, mind, behavior, and spirit have long been honored by many cultures and the advances in science and observation have helped to reveal many an interesting fact about bears. Bears are extraordinary intelligent, diverse, complex, and unique upon the planet Earth. In this essay, their unique qualities, diversity, folklore, and captivity status are discussed.

The Bear Basics

Bears are the large-bodied members of the mammalian order Carnivora within the family Ursiade. Bears are believed to have evolved from a set of smaller-tree climbing ancestors roughly 25 million years ago (Serheen 1). The are a few basic facts about bears that helps to set them apart from other species. One of these is that bears have incredible senses of smell, sight, and hearing. Evidence shows that they can smell food, cubs, and predator from several miles away (Bears). In fact, they can smell even better than a bloodhound (Lukas 21). One technique that bears commonly employ is a direct application of their scent on trees and brushes in order to communicate to others their personal territory.

Thus they have a keen sense of direction, far superior to that of humans, a trait that helps them to protect their kin dearly. The mother Bear is well known to fiercely protect their cubs and risk death and danger to keep them safe (Bears). Also, bears will fight to defend siblings as well. Bears are known to grieve immensely for others with wailing and crying. All of these qualities help to reinforce the importance that bears offer to the world’s ecosystem as unique and powerful members; not to mention that Bears are also very wonderful creatures to look at thanks to their plump and plush size, something that the cubs demonstrate in play like no other species (Lukas 9).

Fortunately for humans, only one species of bear is primarily carnivorous, the Polar Bear and he lives almost exclusively in the artic regions (Servheen 1). This species is however the largest of the bears the world’s largest non-aquatic carnivore (Servheen 1). In general, bears have a concentrated die of fruits, nuts, insects, carrion, and fish when they catch them. The baby bear is a wonder to the world. Even though they will grow up to be several hundred pounds, the fresh born cub is usually even less than a pound (Lukas).

Contrary to popular interpretation, bears like to make their beds when they hibernate rather than sleep in and on solid rock cave. These beds will be made soft from a collection of grass, leaves, moss, and bark (Lukas 13). The bear has the means to get such materials from practically anywhere since they have the ability to climb higher than even most humans can up trees (Lukas 10). Bears will hibernate for up to seven months during the winter time, a period in which they will not eat, drink, defecate, or even urinate (Servheen 1). They will however have a large reduction in bone mass, something they will make up when spring comes with ravenous eating.

Bears of the World

The world is blessed with at least eight bear types. These are featured below in the chart named after this section’s title. The bear types include the American Black Bear, the Asian Black Bird, the Giant Panda Bear, the Polar Bear, The Grizzly Bear, The Spectacled Bear, The Sloth Bear, The Grizzly Bear, and the Sun Bear (Senckenberg Research Institute and Natural History Museum).

The relationship of how these bear species came to be is still uncertain. Evolutionary theorists suggest that the there has been intermingling of species resulting in hybridization, something that is inferred not only from similarity of appearance and genetic material but behavior as well. One known connection is that of the Polar and Brown bear. Analyses from the their DNA indicate that they hybridized long ago in the evolution. The fact that they are showing even more common behavior now that climate change has altered their environmental norms is also validating for the hypothesis. Even though most bears species are separated by ocean as they reside on distinct continents, the Beringina Land between East Asia and West America once allowed for great intermingling of species (Senken Berg Research Institute and Natural History Museum). Following this mating time however, as the bears dispersed, it is observed that they became more specialized and adapted to their unique environments thus helping to solidify the differences now known today. Despite their dispersion, there are actually many more bears on the Northern Hemisphere than on the South (Servheen 1). Intriguingly, there may be other bear types to add to the list of eight. In Canada, a black-bear with cream colored fur has been discovered. Although white like a Polar bear, it is in fact a black-bear which the Native Americans have rightfully dubbed the ‘spirit bear’. In modern times it is called the Kermode bear (Lukas 16).

Bears and Menstruation

There is a controversy with bears that they are attracted to women on their period. Media, urban legends, and fears about bears perpetuate this sort of ideation. In Anchor Man,  when Veronica Corningstone begins work at the male-dominated TV station, dweeb Anchorman Brick proclaims “I read somewhere their periods attract bears. Bears can smell the menstruation.”  To which macho man Brian Fantana replies “Well that’s just great. You hear that, Ed? Bears. Now you’re putting the whole station in jeopardy” (Anchorman). With all the suspicion trotting around about bears, one researcher, Kathryn March of Cornell University, has officially reported on the phenomenon in their Deer, Bears, and Blood journal article. Apparently, it is now sufficiently documented within a wide range of reports that indeed, bears are able to sense menstrual cycles and that this effect is to be regarded with care (March 126). The contemporary scientific community has generally taken this hypothesis as true however empirical testing is still desired, even if only within zoos.  Thus caution with bear may be appropriate for menstruating women when in bear’s territory.

Bears in Captivity

There are many bears in captivity at this point. Bears in captivity are not an ethical concern quite like other animals held within human structures and zones such as dolphins and whales which are accustomed to the wide ocean. In the scientific journal article written by Gervasi, Brunberg, and Swenson, bear behavior compared between those within captivity and those out of captivity are measured with GPS satellite imaging, radio collars, animal movement activities, and research teams to follow bear activity within and without the wild. Using brown bears as the subject population, the researchers followed a set of bears who had their sleeping conditions, feeding, grooming, and roaming behavior recorded within statistical methods process which compared the two groups. Their findings suggest that direct observation of bears is the most reliable way to track behaviors however in their still are reliable methods, like the ones described, to observe bears in the wild. Those in the wild are suggested to have a similar activity staaus as those within captivity, albeit with different and greater roaming behavior (Gervasi, Brunberg, & Swenson 1318).

Popular Bears

The panda may be one of the world’s most popular bear. The Giant Panda has been adopted by China, one of the world’s most forthcoming super powers, to represent the nation as their patron animal. Furthermore, the Great Panda has been chosen by the World Wide Fund for Nature as its flagship animal, most likely because they have an undeniable adorability and specialness that helps humans to feel reminded of the beauty inherent to the larger ecosystem they live in (Servheen 1). The bear has been long honored by people of the Earth, especially indigenous tribes.  The bear has been given many spiritual meanings by those who have known them. It is said by Natives that the bear has a spirit free as the great wind, something their highly unpredictable behavior indicates (Venefica). It is said that bears have the spirit of the warrior yet they have it within a state of greater peace. If one watches the animated film series Kung Fu Panda, starring Jack Black, such an attribution seems quite appropriate. When met in the wild, or even a dream, those who take stock in the inner meaning of such events can expect the appearance of a bear to reflect and/or relate power, courage, freedom, protection, discernment, motherhood, child-bearing, resourcefulness, and/or unpredictability (Venefica).


The bear is easily one of Earth’s most powerful creatures. They are found all over the world and have come in all shapes and sizes, many of which are the subject of humanity’s own interest and consideration. The bear, wherever they are seen, usually help to remind one of the grand and marvelous ability nature has to create forms which are perfectly adapted to their environment and encourage others to reach the same sort of equilibrium.

Works Cited

Anchorman (2004). Movie Mistakes, 2016. Web. August 13, 2016.

Bears. Onekind, 2016. Web. August 16, 2016.

Lukas, Catherine. Bears. Gareth Stevens, 2005. Web. August 13, 2016.

Gervasi, Vincenzo, Brunberg, Sven, & Swenson, Jon, E. An Method to Measure Animal Activity Levels: A Test on Brown Bears. Wildlife Society Bulletin 34 (5). IUCN, 1999. Web. August 16, 2016.

March, Kathryn. Deers, Bears, and Blood: A Note on Nonhuman Animal Response to Menstrual Order.  American Anthropologist, 82 (1), 2009. Web. August 16, 2016.

Senckenberg Research and Natural History Museum. Evolutionary history of bears: It’s complicated. 

Servheen, Christopher. Bears: Status Survey and Conservation Action Plan, 1999. Web. August 16, 2016.

Venefica, Avia. Native American Bear Meaning Native Wisdom on the Bear Symbol., 2016. Web. August 16, 2016.