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Camdens Polar Bear expert to give talk, Those Amazing Bears on January 29
Polar bear 1
Dr. Bell and his wife Paddy traveled to Churchill, Manitoba Polar Bear Captial of the World in 2002. This bear is one of the ones Bell photographed. - photo by Dr. Richard Bell

Camden resident Dr. Richard Bell thinks that Polar Bears are amazing creatures.

"My fascination with Polar Bears began when I was in college in a biochemistry class," said Bell who attended Centre College of Kentucky.

In that class, Bell learned how Polar Bears can eat very little during their seven to eight month hibernation and survive. He became interested in the science behind it.

"How they survive in such a cold environment is fascinating," said Bell.

A Polar Bears’ unique metabolism is one of the characteristics that allow them to survive.

"That was the basis of my fascination with them -- other than the fact that they are cute and everyone loves them," said Bell, smiling.

Bell, chairman of department of surgery at the University of South Carolina from 1997 to 2011, is interested in the possibilities of applying information from studying Polar Bear’s metabolism to human illnesses.

"My fascination has to do with learning if something can be done with studying human illness and the aging process," said Bell.

In 2002, Bell and his wife, Paddy, visited the "Polar Bear Capital of the World" in Churchill, Manitoba, Canada for a chance to see the creatures up close.

There, Bell was able to observe the bears in their natural habitat.

He noticed that the size of Polar Bears in the wild are considerable larger than the ones in captivity.

"They are absolutely huge in the wild. A male bear can reach 1,500 pounds. There are some Inuit records of male bears reaching 2,000 pounds," said Bell.

According to Bell, the living habits of Polar Bears are still a bit mysterious because they can be difficult to research.

Though it was previously thought that the bears’ diet consisted mostly of seals, recent research has shown that the bears have a more varied diet.

"It’s been found, from the bears’ feces, that they eat moss, berries, geese… their diet is much more varied," said Bell.

Another surprising fact, is that despite living in such a cold climate, Polar Bears try to keep cool.

"People wonder how a bear stays warm but they actually try to stay cool," said Bell.

Bell shared that this is because of their "remarkable insulation."

"Their paws are good conductors of heat," said Bell.

On Tuesday, Jan. 29, Bell will share more interesting facts about Polar Bears in his presentation, "Those Amazing Bears," at Books on Broad from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Author Zac Unger’s book, "Never Look a Polar Bear in the Eye" releases that day.