Why Polar Bears Have Short Tails

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This legend tells that long ago, polar bears had long and fluffy tails. A bear was very hungry and had nothing to eat, until his friend the fox told him how to fish in the cold. But he never managed to catch one fish - and even ended up without a tail. The story describes the harsh environment of Scandinavia, and it explains why greed doesn’t pay off.

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Far, far away in the north, very close to the Arctic Circle, it was always freezing cold. The icy cold wind always blew over the white, snow-covered plains. Any animals travelling through the wintry fields were chilled to the bone, despite having warm and fluffy coats.

One day, a giant polar bear was looking for some food. It was terribly cold, and he had already scoured every nook and cranny. It was all in vain. As he roamed helplessly across the plains with the frozen snow creaking under his enormous paws, he came across a fox with a backpack full of fish.

“Hello, fox. I can see you’re going to eat like a king today!" he said, eyeing the fish hungrily. "How have you managed to get so much food - and in this weather?” asked the bear. The fox stopped and replied casually: “Oh, it was a piece of cake! I just went fishing.”

“Fishing?” repeated the bear in surprise. "How is it possible, with all of the water frosted solid?"

And the fox started patiently explaining that even though the lake was frozen over, the ice was only on the surface. There was, of course, still water underneath which was just full of tasty fish.

“It’s really easy," the fox told the bear. "You dig a hole in the ice and then you put your tail down into it. You start wiggling it back and forth, like this," the fox swished his tail to show him. "It makes the fish think it’s actually food that has just fallen in the lake. When they start nibbling, you quickly pull your tail out of the water and that’s it! You have fresh fish!”

The bear thanked his friend the fox for such great advice, and for sharing…

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