Growing up there were three bears. Brown Bear, which was your typical mid-sized teddy bear. Cinnamon Bear, which was on the small side and then White Bear. Given how original I was in naming the bears, it is perhaps no surprise that White Bear was a massive polar bear teddy. Though it started out about four times my size, in recent year’s I’ve finally overtaken it. Which meant it was also time to see a real polar bear in the flesh. Acting on childhood dreams I tracked down a giant male at the Copenhagen Zoo and visited. Seeing my childhood play companion come to life was wonderful and brought back memories of a massive stuffed teddy bear. You don’t realize just how huge polar bears are until you see them in person and up close. But, seeing a polar bear in the zoo is like watching the trailer to a movie. It captures the imagination, leaves you with mixed feelings, and sets the hook ensuring you have to see the real deal in its entirety.
So, you can imagine my excitement when just over a year later the Canadian Tourism folks awarded me first place in a photo contest. The grand prize? A trip to Churchill, Manitoba for a three day polar bear safari with Frontiers North.
Seeing the polar bears in the wild is an awe inspiring experience (see my full posts on the safari). It’s something that everyone should see. Their size, their level of fitness, their curiosity, and their intelligence will captivate your imagination and leave you awed. This photo captures one of many powerful moments as the bears ran into each other, carefully evaluated each other, and then decided to play in the snow, putting on a fantastic show for us. While the bears were just playing, the power and force exerted was enough to crush human bones and occasionally drew a little blood as spittle flew and their bodies collided.
Make sure to head over to flickr to see the rest of the album.