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polar bears sparring

Polar Bear Q&A of the Day: Why do polar bears spar?

Polar Bear experts are on hand during Polar Bear Cam season to weigh in on your frequently asked questions!

Today’s Question: Why do polar bears spar?

Sometimes polar bear cam watchers will see bears stand on their back legs and push each other around. It’s not real fighting, it’s sparring, or play fighting. Polar bears spar for the same reason other animals, like your cats or dogs, spar. The practice reinforces relationships between animals. It determines who is stronger and establishes a hierarchy.

“Sparring can develop and enforce muscle movements for later in life when they are actually hunting,” said Tom Smith, an associate professor and research wildlife biologist in the Department of Plant and Wildlife Sciences at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah.

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