Tibetan Blue Bear

The Tibetan Blue Bear, Ursus arctos pruinosus, is a subspecies of the Brown Bear and is found in the eastern Tibetan plateau. It is also known as the Himalayan Blue Bear, Himalayan Snow Bear, Tibetan Brown Bear, or the Horse Bear. In Tibetan it is known as Dom gyamuk. One of the rarest subspecies of bear in the world, the Blue Bear is rarely sighted in the wild, and is known in the west only through a small number of fur and bone samples. It was first classified in 1854.

The Blue Bear is notable for having been suggested as one possible inspiration for sightings associated with the legend of the yeti. A 1960 expedition to search for evidence of the yeti, lead by Sir Edmund Hillary, returned with two scraps of fur that had been identified by locals as ‘yeti fur’ that were later scientifically identified as being portions of the pelt of a Blue Bear. While it is unlikely that the Blue Bear generally occupies the high mountain peaks and snow fields where the yeti is generally considered to live, it is possible that the occasional specimen might be observed traveling through these regions during times of reduced food supply, or in search of a mate.

The exact conservation status of the Blue Bear is unknown, due to limited information. However, in the United States trade in Blue Bear specimens or products is restricted by the Endangered Species Act. It is also listed in Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) as a protected species. It is threatened by the use of bear bile in traditional Chinese medicine and habitat encroachment.