Pandas and Polar Bears Coexist, if Only in Pictures

Two of the world’s iconic bears—polars and pandas—don’t tend to be in the same place at the same time. But in a new campaign from Coca-Cola and the World Wildlife Federation, the two share the stage, even if only in cartoon drawings.

Starting last week and continuing until February 2012, in a campaign aptly named “Arctic Home,” Coke cans are replacing their come-hither red with a more-subdued snow-white hue (the pop’s logo still stands out in bright red; check it out to the left) all in the name of polar bear conservation. Each participating soda can includes a textable code (send to 357357) that donates a buck a drinker to the panda-logoed WWF. Coke will match up to $1 million in donations, plus give another $2 million to help conserve the Arctic.

Note: National Audubon Society is also doing work to preserve the Arctic. Check out Audubon Alaska for more information.

“Polar bears are excellent swimmers, but their preferred habitat is on top of the ice that covers the Arctic seas much of the year. That is where they mate, hunt and rear their young,” states the WWF polar bear page. “By 2040, the summer sea ice could be reduced to a small fringe on the northern coasts of Canada and Greenland.” For that reason, WWF plans to use the donations to engage local communities in helping protect the sea ice.

Coca-Cola has had a strong connection to polar bears since the early 1920s, when the mammal first appeared in one of the soft drink’s ads. Since then the bears have been busy, ice skating, swimming, sledding, even dancing with penguins. In reality, though, life in the Arctic isn’t that much fun these days. But with a little help from conservation organizations and 1.4 billion Coke cans, maybe the ice will stick around a lot longer.

A Com-bear-ison
Some stats about polar bears and giant pandas, both of which are threatened species.
Source: World Wildlife Fund and US Fish and Wildlife

Polar bear
Weight: Between 780 and 1,500 lbs
Length: Between 6.5 and 10 feet long
Diet: Ringed and bearded seals, harp and sometimes beluga whales and young walruses
Other: Where polars live, temperatures hit a max of 50°F during summer and can fall to -22°F during winter

Giant panda
Weight: Between 220 and 330 lbs
Length: Between 4 and 6 feet long
Diet: Bamboo (90% of diet), some types of flowering plants, fish, and small rodents occasionally
Other: Scientists still debate whether the giant panda falls into the bear or raccoon family or a separate one altogether, though recent DNA tests have shown a link to bears.

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