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Interesting facts about the Syrian bear

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We found 11 interesting facts about the Syrian bear

The only known bear with white claws.

The Syrian bear (Ursus arctos syriacus) is the smallest of the brown bears. It lives in the highlands of the Middle East, but its population is systematically declining. It has light coloring and white claws, which is unique among bears. He is especially close to the Poles, because it was the Syrian bear Wojtek who bravely “fought” at Monte Cassino along with Polish soldiers.


The Syrian bear (Ursus arctos syriacus) is a subspecies of the brown bear.

The subspecies was first described in 1828 by two German scientists: zoologist Christian Gottfried Ehrenberg and naturalist Friedrich Wilhelm Hemprich, giving it the name Ursus syriacus.


Historically, the brown bear ranged from Turkey to Turkmenistan in the Middle East.

It became extinct in Syria in the mid-XNUMXth century, and was also extirpated in Jordan and Israel. Currently lives in the South Caucasus: in the north of Armenia, Azerbaijan, Abkhazia, as well as in the countries of the Middle East: Iraq, Iran, Lebanon, Turkey and Turkmenistan.

In Syria, bear tracks were recorded in the snow in the Anti-Lebanon Mountains in 2004 - the first time this happened in almost fifty years. In 2011, bear tracks were again recorded in this area. In 2017, a female with cubs was spotted in Lebanon for the first time in 60 years.


Important habitats for this bear in Turkey are the forests of the Mediterranean belt, the deciduous and coniferous forests of the Black Sea region and northeastern Turkey, as well as the dry forests of Eastern Anatolia.

Their ranges range from 500 to 2700 m. In Iran, the bear is found in the protected area of ​​the Alborz mountain range (northern Iran) and in the Zagroz mountains. In these regions it is found at high altitudes.

Learn interesting facts about bears.


The Syrian bear is the smallest subspecies of brown bear.

An adult animal weighs up to 250 kg and has a body length of approximately 101-140 cm (from nose to tail).


The fur of the Syrian bear is usually light brown, straw-colored.

The hair at the withers is longer, with a grey-brown base, and is often a different shade from the rest of the body, appearing as a dark stripe along the back in some individuals. Brighter colors tend to appear in people living at higher altitudes. Their legs are usually darker than the rest of their body.


It is the only known bear in the world to have white claws.

In the wild, these animals live for about 20-25 years.


The Syrian bear is primarily threatened by habitat loss.

This is usually associated with the development of agriculture, where bears come into conflict with humans (attacks on farm animals, destruction of beehives, destruction of crops), as well as with forest degradation. They are also threatened by poaching and the trade in bear parts used in traditional medicine. Residents of the Black Sea region illegally hunt Syrian bears for bear fat, which is said to have medicinal value. Bears are also sometimes killed when hunting wild boar with dogs, as well as from poisoned baits and snares illegally placed on deer, roe deer, wolves and lynxes.


In 2018, Iraqi troops killed a Syrian sleeping bear on the Iraq-Syria border.

These bears are protected by the CITES Convention on Trade in Animals (Washington Convention).

Syrian bear numbers are declining and may be endangered in the wild (one of the categories that determine a species' endangered status).


He is omnivorous.

It feeds on fruits, berries, seeds, nuts, grass, larvae and small mammals. It also eats crops and domestic animals in mountain villages, hence its conflict with humans.


The Syrian bear is also present in the culture.

It is mentioned several times in the Bible as a symbol of a mother's care for her children.


The most famous Syrian bear was Wojtek the bear, which was adopted by Polish soldiers during World War II.

Wojtek took part in the Battle of Monte Cassino. He was the mascot of the soldiers, whom he bravely helped by carrying artillery loads. He initially received the rank of private and was later promoted to corporal. He went with the soldiers the entire battle path, received a salary and even had to report. After the war he was sent to Edinburgh Zoo, where he died in 1963.

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