Threatened Spirit Bear's Best Hope: Photographers 'Canada's panda' symbolizes fight to preserve British Columbia's rainforest By Rob Quinn, Newser Staff Posted Oct 22, 2010 9:32 AM CDT 4 comments Comments Because of a genetic quirk, around a tenth of 'spirit bears' have white fur. (Wikipedia (GNU)) (Newser) – Never heard of "Canada's panda?" Naturalists fighting to preserve the very rare bear's rainforest habitat in British Columbia want that to change. Only about 500 of the bears—a subspecies of black bear that has white fur—exist, and activists fear that a proposed pipeline through the Great Bear rainforest will spell doom for the animal that native peoples know as the "spirit bear," ABC reports. The pipeline project—designed to speed the passage of oil from tar sands in Alberta to China—will require the building of a terminal for supertankers in the rainforest, a largely untouched area of wilderness the size of Switzerland, and activist warn that a spill would devastate the area. So they've brought in the International League of Conservation Photographers, a sort of "SWAT team of photographers that are deployed to an area that needs immediate media attention," to photograph the wildlife there and bolster the case for preserving it. After much effort, they managed to capture images of several "spirit bears"—click here for a look.