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Grizzly bear fur

       

Grizzly bears have fur in a wide palette of colors

 

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Grizzly bear fur generally follows the categories asigned to human hair -blondes, brunettes, and red-heads.  Just like with humans, there is a lot of variation in color within these broader categories.  

 

    The vast majority of grizzly bears are some shade of brown (hence their other name- brown bears).  

 

     

There are light brown bears, dark brown bears, and everything in between.  

 

  Some bears are extremely dark brown and can even appear almost black.    

 

Some bears have a distinctly orange colored hue to their hair.  

 

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      Many people are surprised to learn that grizzly bears can be blonde colored.  The vast majority of female bears where we camp in Katmai National Park are blonde, and many of them are extremely light colored like this bear above. One grizzly mother in this area gave birth to two cubs that were polar bear white.  They darkened up to very light blonde as adults.  Light colored grizzly bears tend to have darker fur on their legs.  Seeing grizzly bears that are almost white makes it easy to imagine how they evolved into polar bears.  Polar bears evolved recently (in geological time) from brown bears and the two species can actually mate and produce fertile offspring.  

 

    During late spring and early summer bears begin to shed their winter coats, which were thick and fluffy for life in the den.  A grizzly bear's fur, and therefore appearance, changes greatly throughout the spring, summer and fall.  When shedding they sometimes lose the hair on their faces first giving them a funny bald looking appearance.

 

    Grizzly bears can look pretty funny when they are losing their hair in random places like this bear above in mid-July. She had lost most of her winter coat except for a thick pom-pom of fur on her hump, and some fur sticking out of her sides.

 

    Most grizzly bear cubs are dark brown when they are born, and stay dark colored through their first summer.  Cubs often have a white chevron around their necks.  

 

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 Photographs and text 2008 Jessica Teel