Gobi bear

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Gobi bear
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Family: Ursidae
Genus: Ursus
Species: U. arctos
Subspecies: U. a. gobiensis
Trinomial name
Ursus arctos gobiensis
Sokolov & Orlov, 1992

The Gobi bear, Ursus arctos gobiensis (known in Mongolian as the mazaalai / Мазаалай) is a subspecies of the brown bear, Ursus arctos, that is found in the Gobi Desert of Mongolia. At present they are listed as "very rare" in the Mongolian Red Book, and may represent a threatened subspecies, as the small population of Gobi bears makes them vulnerable to outside threats. In recent population estimation based on genetic analysis, there are 22-31 individuals living in the Gobi desert (Report 2012, Gobi bear project team).

"Break camp about 9.30 a.m. and head for the Atis Mountains. We cross a large open plain and then enter a steep-sided, black, shale-strewn valley. Just before we entered the valley we discovered the footprints of the extremely rare Gobi Bear (ursus gobiensis)[there are presumed to be approximately only thirty-two in the world and there is continuing debate among scientists over whether they are a true species or a sub-species]."[1]

The Gobi brown bear is sometimes classified as being of the same subspecies as the Tibetan blue bear; this is based on morphological similarities, and the belief that the desert-dwelling Gobi bear represents a relict population of the blue bear. However, the Gobi bear is sometimes classified as its own subspecies, and closely resembles other Asian brown bears.


  1. ^ Hare (2009), pp. 103-104