Scientists know the bear as Ursus americanus kermodei, or the Kermode bear, named after biologist Frank Kermode. Kermode, a former director of the Royal British Columbia Museum in Victoria, was among the first to research the subspecies. The bear is a color polymorphism of the black bear Ursus americanus. “Spirit bears have one of the most distinctive and conspicuous such polymorphisms of any mammal,” says ecologist Tom Reimchen, of the University of Victoria. Reimchen has spent much of his career studying the bears.