In the third novel of the MaddAddam trilogy, we finally get a look into the life of the mysterious Zeb. We learn that he worked for Bearlift which basically consisted of bringing our leftovers to the polar bears because they were starving due to the ice being almost gone and their inability to catch seals. However, we also learn that many polar bears had started moving southward so as not to die of starvation. As a result of this, many of them had started to mate with grizzlies, creating new predators with unpredictable temperaments: the pizzlies and the grolars.
So, this got me thinking about what’s really going on with the polar bears up north and have they truly started moving south due to the melting ice caps and lack of food? Well, I was saddened and slightly frightened to learn that, yes, almost everything about this fiction novel’s description of the future of polar bears is accurate or could soon become a reality.
Firstly, mostly due to global warming, it is getting more and more difficult for them to hunt their primary food source, seals, because bears are now facing longer periods without sea ice which they are dependant on to hunt. The hope was that, when food was scarce, they would slow down their metabolism levels as they do in hibernation. However, research has shown that they could not maintain their body weight and improve their chances of survival in these conditions.
So, as in the novel, polar bears have started to migrate south. This is problematic for several reasons, one of them being the need for them to find alternative sources of food. The most likely substitute will be to eat different plants. But, because they are used to eating seal blubber, their teeth are not adapted to the consumption of vegetation. To add to this, they would increasingly come into competition with grizzly bears for food in their new environment.
Then, if they don’t compete with grizzlies, it is possible for them to mate. In fact, pizzlies and grolars are no longer fiction. In several instances, these crossbreeds were seen in Alaska and Canada. All hybrids that have been analyzed so far were found to have grizzly fathers and polar bears mothers. This is due to males roaming to establish territory and females not straying far from their home ranges.
So, how will this polar bear migration affect our ecosystem and should we fear the potentially growing population of pizzlies and grolars?