What would happen if I shipped polar bears to Antarctica?

If polar bears suddenly appeared on Antarctica, what would happen? Would penguins and other local animals stood any chance against them? Or would it just lead to a swift disappearance of any sizeable local animals and subsequently polar bears themselves?

My another question is: what would polar bear do in Africa? I’m afraid it would eventually exhaust to the heat but do you think before that it would be able to adapt it’s behaviour to completely different surroundings than where it has evolved? I mean, to what extent mammals are able to ditch their in-built behaviour when it is totally unsuitable to the situation?

Also, would there be any legal consequences?

Not a biologist. Polar bears can overheat at conditions below freezing. I don’t think they’d survive.

According to this and this penguins and seals in Antarctica have no equivalent surface predator and, like the dodo, lack fear of man. They would thus be massacred in short order by an exploding polar bear population, which would then begin to starve to death as their food became scarcer.

Not a biologist/zoologist…so just thinking aloud here really…

  • On the surface of it, you’d think a polar bear would have an absolute field day with a colony of penguins. But their minds and bodies have not evolved to hunt/eat any Antarctican fauna - would this be an issue? Would a polar bear simply freeze in a state of stunned incomprehension, or would it run around having the-best-time-ever? Might it, for whatever reason, be not able to digest penguin meat?

  • Penguins, whales and seals are pretty much it in terms of meat in Antarctica (well - apart from scientists and tourists) - would that be enough in terms of a balanced diet? And could a polar bear ever conceivably ‘catch’ a whale?

  • At the risk of sounding stupid…is the snow and ice in Antarctica qualitatively the same as the stuff at the north pole? Does it have different ratios of salt/nitrogen/whatever? Might the environment there actually be toxic for said polar bears? You never know…

  • Antarctica is *really *big - and the vast chunk of it is away from liquid water of any sort. Polar bears eat a lot of fish and seals (right?), and so need to be around water (right?) - so one would presume that if Antarctica were a viable habitat - it would only be the coastal regions (?)

  • What about migration? I’m guessing that polar bears are genetically hard-wired to migrate during certain periods - and that this hard-wiring has been tailored to where they come from in the northern hemisphere. How would being suddenly transported to Antarctica affect this? Would they try to migrate anyway? Or would it trigger some kind of existential crisis?

  • It can get colder in Antarctica than the Arctic circle (google tells me); is there a point at which even polar bears get too chilly?

Just to throw things on their heads, how would penguins do at the north pole?

The shipping costs would be prohibitive, even by Amazon drone.

I wish I could draw cartoons:

Picture that drone with a polar bear hanging on by its claws. Underneath, a flock of penguins look up in wonderment.

Worried looking guy says to the one with the controls - “I told you we needed a compass”

“I said I wanted a white beer…”

Video of one giving it a try.

Although, I wonder what would have happened if it was orcas, rather than belugas the bear went after.

And from this link:

Wouldn’t this be a foxes and rabbits thing? Decline in prey population causes and is followed by decline in predator population, which allows prey population to recover, which allows predator population to recover, repeat ad infinitum.

I guess it depends on whether there is a minimum sustainable flock size for the penguins, and whether they could acquire fear of predation within a few generations.

Maybe you could introduce a few males or a few females, but not both. If they can’t reproduce wildly for awhile, maybe that would give the penguins time to adapt.

I guess you don’t use Amazon Prime.

Well, if you did this before the character Stephen Colbert was retired, you’d get a place on the “ThreatDown” for releasing godless killing machines. Even he’d be on the side of the environment there.

Those OTHER godless killing machines, the leopard seals, would put the prey between a rock and a hard place.

Legally - I’m not sure except that the sectors of Antarctica are claimed by various countries. You might be able to drop them in that one unclaimed part, and then it’s those countries’ fault that they didn’t build fences!

Didn’t you see Jurassic Park!?

All I can say is, I’m not signing for them.

Penguins are extremely powerful, a Emperor Penguin has been know to be able to break a mans (whatever the strongest leg bone is) by use of his/her wing. Not to say that is anything impressive in terms of bear strength, but not something to be messed with either. Also the cycles are backwards. Polar bears hybronate in the winter, when penguins are on land, and are active in the summer when penguins are at sea.

No. Polar bears are fairly intelligent mammal predators, they should be able to figure the “problem” out.

I don’t see why penguin meat would be a problem.

In some parts of North America polar bears have made a good living on the garbage dumps of humans which are no doubt a lot more alien to their digestion than a bunch of penguins.

Since in the Arctic they pretty much live on fish, seals, other marine mammals, and the occasional human I would expect so. They’re pretty dedicated carnivores.

They have, at least those on the small side, as noted above.

No. At least not to a degree that would affect a mammal. Fish are a slightly different matter, but polar bears aren’t fish.

Well, maybe if someone at McMurdo or some other base threw something toxic out onto the landscape… but it’s my understanding the bases are usually pretty anal about containing their garbage so as not to disrupt the environment. (That’s what you get when the major population in a place is scientists, I guess.)

That’s pretty much true for every other lifeform on the continent so yeah, if polar bears want to eat they’ll have to stick around where everyone else is. The exception is breeding Emperor penguins, who stick it out on interior ice all winter incubating their eggs. A polar bear coming across a breeding colonies of those would probably have quite a party.

I think it’s more the polar bears wander. If they “migrate” it’s because they’re following their prey, not because it’s been hardwired into their behavior.


Well, except for having to learn about new predators probably OK. Except for the Emperors, with their whacky breeding strategy, don’t know how well they would adapt that to the local conditions.

There are near equatorial penguins, they’re actually quite adaptable on a certain level, they just never got to the northern hemisphere.

These bears would be made of antimatter?
I expect that would be bad for the whole continent, not just penguins and seals.

From here

And googling “do polar bears hibernate” gets a LOT of hits saying this.
We’re in GQ.

Previous thread on this topic here: How would polar bears fare in the antarctic? - Factual Questions - Straight Dope Message Board

This doesn’t make any sense.