Read an Excerpt
World of Difference
Enter the world of spirit bears. They're black bears that are white -- or that are black but are able to have white cubs. Black bears normally vary in color from brown to cinnamon to gray-blue to black. Only very few have white fur. In fact, in the spirit bears' main home of Princess Royal Island in the province of British Columbia, just one in ten is white.
Spirit bears have other names too. They're called kermode [ker-MOH-dee] bears -- after Francis Kermode, who studied them in the early 1900s. Sometimes they're labeled ghost bears because they can be difficult to find.
Never mistake a white spirit bear for an albino [al-BYE-no] bear or a polar bear. The albino bear is a rare quirk of nature. It has white fur, but unlike the spirit bear, it has no color in its skin or eyes. Although the polar bear has white fur, it lives farther north and is a lot larger than the spirit bear.
Still, the spirit bear is a good size. An average male weighs as much as the washer and dryer that launder your clothes. The male is about twice as heavy as the female.
The spirit bear shares many features with other black bears. It has rounded ears, small eyes, long nostrils, and a short tail. Each of its feet has five sharp, curved claws.
When the spirit bear moves, it often just shuffles its bulky body. But don't be fooled. If it must, this bear can run faster than a car usually drives through town.