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Three cheers for polar bears!  

Three cheers for polar bears!

February 27 is International Polar Bear Day, an observance created to bring attention to the important role these alpha predators play in the Arctic ecosystem. Though polar bears aren"t endangered—their current conservation status is "vulnerable"—these magnificent beasts have become a sort of mascot for the race to slow the melting of Arctic sea ice. The Arctic ice is crucial to the bears" survival, as they hunt the ringed seals that bob up through holes in the ice. As Arctic ice decreases, the polar bears" hunting ground does too.

© Steven Kazlowski/Minden Pictures

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