33¢ Polar Bear
Issue Date: March 12, 1999
City: Barrow, AK
Printed By: Banknote Corp. of America
Printing Method: Lithographed
People long believed that the Arctic area was a cold, barren place where life could not exist. But after many years of exploration, scientists discovered that a variety of plants and animals are able to survive there.
The region includes the Arctic Ocean, thousands of islands, and the northern parts of Europe, Asia, and North America. During winter, when temperatures can drop to -65 degrees, sunshine never reaches much of the Arctic. But with temperatures in the 50s in summer months, berries, flowers, and other plants are able to grow.
Animal life in the Arctic is limited in species but rich in numbers. Herds of caribou and reindeer, the most common arctic animals, roam the pastures. Wolves, sables, bears, foxes, and hares provide food and fur for man. The female lemming can be responsible for more than 100 offspring in a year. Under extreme conditions, some animals, such as the snowy owl, may migrate south for the winter. The plant life which feeds the animals completes this virtually self-sufficient circle of life.
Unlike other warm-blooded mammals, animals living in the Arctic do not hibernate in winter because warm shelters are impossible to find. A few animals, including the Arctic ground squirrel, attempt to hibernate, but shiver themselves awake after only a few days.