Uplifted animals are nonsapient creatures modified to increase their cognitive ability to full self-awareness, and sometimes also to make their physical forms better able to manipulate tools. Uplifted bears are among the most common uplifted animals, although who uplifted them and how are unknown.
Uplifted bears have modified bodies that give them nimble hands with opposable thumbs. They retain a normal bear’s bulk and power, with claws that can rip through modern armor. Alongside their brute strength, uplifted bears have a keen intellect and the ability to communicate via telepathy, which most choose to do rather than vocalize gruffly from what is still a bear’s muzzle. An uplifted bear can be 5 feet tall at the shoulder when on all fours but tower up to 10 feet when moving bipedally. An adult bear weighs 1,200 pounds.
These modifications and traits are genetic and can be passed down by mating pairs of uplifted bears.
Many uplifted bears find success in scientific endeavors, but they are most comfortable when they can be outside regularly in a natural, vegetated environment. Though this characteristic is not universal, it has led to uplifted bears gaining a reputation as poor crew members in orbital stations and long-haul expeditions. Others also assume the bears are best suited for exploring habitable worlds and cataloging flora and fauna.
Uplifted bears are sometimes rumored to have violent temperaments, but their personalities are as varied as those of any sapient species. Some uplifted bears take great pleasure in playing to this stereotype when they meet other people, drawing out the biased assumptions of the ill-informed, and then mocking them. Conversely, giving truth to the generality, a number of organized crime kingpins are uplifted bears who find they can threaten with their bulk when they can’t convince with their wits.
Uplifted bears feel a kinship for animals and animal-like humanoids, often preferring their company. They relate well to shirrens, though uplifted bears are more reserved than the enthusiastic insectile species. Much as many shirrens fear reassimilation, some uplifted bears fear that whoever created them might return and put a dark spin on the gift of sapience the bears were given.
An uplifted bear exploration team recently discovered a planet full of skyscraper-sized trees and unpopulated by sentient creatures. Since this report, a small but vocal contingent of uplifted bears has begun calling for their kind to claim the planet as their home world.