spirit bearimage credit: naturalart.ca

spirit bear cubimage credit: kermode-terrace-bc.com

spirit bearimage credit: bear.org

spirit bearimage credit: paulburwell.com
Habitat: central and north coast of British Columbia

What you are looking at is not an albino, or polar bear. This is the rare Kermode Bear, also known as a “spirit bear.” Spirit bears are white subspecies of black bears and are very prominent in the mythology of the Canadian First Nations and American Indians of the area. The white appearance is due to a recessive allele common in the population, allowing for 1/10th of the population to feature this white coat.

According to Tsimshiam (an indigenous people of the Pacific Northwest Coast) legend, long ago the world was covered in ice and snow. One day, the raven, the creator of the world, came down from heaven and turned the world green, as it is today. But as a reminder of the time when all was white, the raven went among the bears and turned every tenth one the color of snow. The raven decreed that the white bear, which the Tsimshiam call Moksgm’ol, would live forever in peace.

Unfortunately, the last part of the legend has not come true for the Spirit bear. Due to logging and deforestation of their habitat, Spirit bears are quickly losing much of their homeland and in a matter of 200 years, will become as rare as the Giant Panda.