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Endangered Species: Polar Bear Makes the List

In spring 2008, the polar bear was placed on the endangered species list.
According to the Endangered Species Act, an endangered species is an animal
that is likely to face extinction in its natural habitat. Polar bears have been
categorized as a "threatened" species. The ESA defines a threatened species as
one that is likely to become "endangered" in the foreseeable future.
The polar bear is the first animal that has been classified as endangered due
primarily to global warming. Global warming is caused by carbon dioxide and
other greenhouse gases that become trapped in the atmosphere. Heating homes,
driving cars, and burning garbage all require fossil fuels that lead to global

The polar bear's habitat is more vulnerable to global warming than many other
species. Polar bears live mainly on the sea ice in the Arctic. This is where they
hunt for fish and build up fat reserves. When the ice melts many polar bears move
to land and live off their stored fat. In the Arctic, global warming is causing the ice
to melt slightly earlier and form slightly later. This results in a shorter feeding
season for the polar bear. Some risk their lives to find ice. If they have to swim
too far they will drown from exhaustion and hunger. The World Wildlife Fund
estimates that 25% of the Arctic sea ice has disappeared in the past 30 years.

It is not only the polar bear that is at risk in the Arctic. Every species of plant,
animal, and insect there is threatened by global warming.
Nevertheless, environmentalist groups such as the World Wildlife Fund often
study large carnivores in order to assess the health of an ecosystem. The
Arctic food chain relies on the polar bear. In addition, donations are more
commonly offered for the protection of large animals such as bears or elephants.
People in general are less interested in conservation efforts that protect small
wildlife, such as plants or insects. However, by using donor money to protect the
habitat of the larger animals (ex. reforestation programs), entire ecosystems
can be protected.

It is important that animals such as the polar bear make it onto the endangered
species list. Once they are on the list there are laws that protect these animals
from being hunted for food or sport. Agencies also receive money and tools to
protect the habitat and recover the species. The goal of removing the animal
from the list is often achievable. Since the Endangered Species Act was
introduced in the US in 1973, many species have been taken off the list due to
increased populations. In fact, it is rare for a species to go extinct after they make
the list. Sadly many species do go extinct while waiting for consideration.

I. Match the word with the meaning.

word meaning
a) conservation
b) ecosystem
c) endangered
d) environmentalist
e) extinction
f) food chain
g) global warming
h) habitat
i) recover verb
j) reforestation
k) risk verb
l) vulnerable
m) wildlife noun

II. Define parts of speech.

1) conservation effort is a 2) ecosystem is a

a) noun a) noun
b) verb b) adverb
c) adjective c) adjective
3) endangered species is 4) recover is
a) noun a) adverb
b) regular verb b) verb
c) adjective c) adjective
5) wildlife is 6) risk is
a) noun a) irregular noun
b) verb b) verb
c) adjective c) adjective
7) vulnerable is
a) uncountable noun
b) verb
c) adjective

III. Spot the errors

1. Polar bears cannot to swim long distances without eating.

2. Can you understand what the environmentalist was saying about global
3. A rare insect got on the endangered species list last year, and the
conservationists could to recover it within six months.
4. We must to do our part to help preserve the Arctic habitat.
5. We must'nt forget about the other animals and plants in the Arctic food





IV. Vocab Quiz

1. The place where a species lives and reproduces is its

a) conservation
b) habitat
c) food chain
d) ecosystem

2. When a species is no longer found on earth it is said to be

a) threatened
b) endangered
c) extinct
d) at risk

3. Reforestation in an area where a threatened species lives is an example of a

a) global warming
b) conservation effort
c) habitat
d) vulnerable species

4. The gradual warming of the earth is called

a) endangered
b) habitat
c) environmental
d) global warming

5. Once a species is placed on an endangered list, a group will attempt __________

to the population.
a) rewind
b) revise
c) recover
d) repair

V. Comprehension Quiz

1. According to the article, an endangered species is one that
a) is already extinct
b) is dangerous to humans
c) will die out in nature

2. What poses the greatest threat to polar bears today?

a) over hunting
b) climate change
c) polluted water
d) politicians

3. What major change has occurred in the polar bear's natural habitat?
a) air temperature colder
b) ice extremely polluted
c) sea ice much reduced

4. What type of conservation efforts are people generally interested in?

a) saving insects and birds
b) protecting large animals
c) reforestation projects

5. According to the World Wildlife Fund polar bear studies help researchers
determine the
a) health of the Artic
b) likely date of extinction
c) impact of man on environment

VI. Topics for discussion and essay-writing

1. Why do you think the Canadian Arctic is called the Land of the Midnight Sun?
What do you think it would be like to live there?

2. The Governor of Alaska is unhappy with the decision to place the polar bear on
the endangered species list. What could this decision mean for development in

3. A rough estimate suggests that there are approximately 20,000 polar bears in
the world. Why do you think it is so difficult to know how many bears live in the
Arctic? What challenges would face a census team?

4. Scientists say there are twice as many polar bears living in the Arctic as there
were in the 1960's. This is because polar bears used to be severely over hunted.
Some politicians site this data as a reason for not placing polar bears on the
endangered species list. How do you feel about their argument?

5. If there are 25,000 polar bears now, how do you think the population will
change by the year 2050? What factors did you consider in making your


Word Meaning
conservation measures to protect and restore the natural world
effort noun
ecosystem noun the ongoing relationship between living things and their
endangered animals or plants that are likely to go extinct
species noun
environmentali a person who cares about the natural world and makes an
st noun effort to protect it or raise awareness for its needs
extinction noun the loss of a species in this world
food chain noun a group of organisms that feed off each other
global warming the gradual increase in temperature on earth
habitat noun the area where a species naturally lives, eats, and
recover verb to help a certain species repopulate an area
reforestation the planting and growth of new trees
risk verb engage in a dangerous act
vulnerable likely to face injury or danger
wildlife noun plants and animals living in a natural environment


1. a 2. a 3. a 4. b 5. a 6. b 7. c

1. Polar bears cannot swim long distances without eating.
2. Could you understand what the environmentalist was saying about global
3. A rare insect got on the endangered species list last year, and the
conservationists were able to recover it within six months.
4. We must do our part to help preserve the Arctic habitat.
5. We mustn't forget about the other animals and plants in the Arctic food chain.

IV. Vocab Quiz V. Comprehension Quiz

1. b
2. c
3. 1. b c
4. 2. d b
5. 3. c c
4. b
VI. 5. a
.. points for each sentence.