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Generally massive, short-legged mammals constituting the family Ursidae. Bears are the most recently evolved carnivore, found in Europe, Asia, and the Americas. Closely related to the dog and the raccoon, most bears climb with ease and are strong swimmers. As a family, they are omnivores, but dietary preferences vary among species (the polar bear feeds mainly on seals, the spectacled bear on vegetation, etc.). Though they do not truly hibernate, bears often sleep fitfully through much of the winter. They live 15–30 years in the wild but much longer in captivity. They have been hunted as trophies, for hides, and for food. See alsoblack bear; brown bear; sun bear.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on bear, visit Britannica.com.