The Polar Bear Throat Hold – Weekly Travel Photo

Wild Polar Bears in Churchill

Playing, fighting or somewhere in between?  That’s the question I found myself pondering repeatedly over the three days I spent on the frozen Canadian tundra just outside of the remote town of Churchill in central Canada.  Over the 72 hours we shared with the polar bears they put on great displays of physical strength while balancing them with awe inspiring shows of laziness and apathy that left me reminded of my cat, Riven. The bears periodically assumed a standing position for battles that tested their strength and allowed them to feel each other out in a mostly friendly atmosphere as they lounged along the partially frozen shores of Hudson Bay waiting….waiting…waiting for the temperature to drop and for the bay to freeze over completely. Once the waters freeze solid suddenly a frozen wonderland of snacks, treats, and fishing holes emerges which the the bears will explore during the winter’s cold, dark months.

Make sure to head over to flickr to see the rest of the album.

Would you like to see previous Weekly Photos? View past travel pictures here. This photo was taken on a Canon T3i (600D) Camera.

Polar Bear Kisses – Weekly Travel Photo

Wild Polar Bears in Churchill

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.

Would you like to see previous Weekly Photos? View past travel pictures here. This photo was taken on a Canon T3i (600D) Camera.

The Polar Bear Adventure: Part III

Wild Polar Bears in Churchill

It’s a cold and blustery day here in Copenhagen.  Snow has been falling all day – the cold air converting biker’s deep breaths into jets of steam. The barely audible grunts as they strain against their pedals, pushing their bikes up to speed through the slush, toys with my memory.   The combination of sights, sounds and cold sensations triggers a tingle along my spine and memories of Churchill, Canada.

I knelt in the icy cold on a welcome mat, set up over a metal grate-turned rear deck on one of the cars that makes up the Tundra Buggy Lodge.  Below me the hulking snow-white head, black nose, and purple tongue of a polar bear perched delicately on the trailer hitch.  Her face pressed up against the grate, less than two inches from my own.  The heat of her warm breath sending forth similar jets of steam as she grunted, sniffing, drawing in my scent, eyeing me and then chewing on the wooden support strut.  I scolded her gently, at least as much as a small, fragile, human like myself can scold a hulking 1,200 pound creature.

Wild Polar Bears in Churchill

Over the three days I spent out on the frozen tundra with the bears I learned a lot about them.  The world’s obsession with polar bears is a tribute to their beauty and exotic charm, but beyond that they are deeply intelligent creatures that harbor a mixed sense of playful curiosity and comical quirkiness which comes from being at the top of the food chain and living in an area where the only threat is starvation, other polar bears, and on a very, very rare occasion humans.  It’s easy to think of them as giant dogs or cats. Playful, sociable, slow-moving, and infinitely lazy.  It’s only when you get the chance to see them “play” or when you come nose-to-nose with them that you realize how fast and deadly they truly are.  These giants of the ice usually live into their 20s though the oldest on record died at the age of 42 in a zoo. They are crafty, full of personality, and can be extremely social.

Wild Polar Bears in Churchill

I was lucky. My introduction to the bears stretched over three days and two nights during which we slept, ate, drank and watched the bears.  It was an odd experience – once we stepped on to the rear viewing deck of the custom-built Tundra Buggy we committed ourselves to three days floating 10 feet above the frozen tundra and lakes of Wapusk National Park.  We spent our days on the Buggies – what felt like super-sized school buses on 5 foot tall wheels – and our nights docking with the Tundra Buggy Lodge.  The lodge itself is little more than a series of custom tundra buggies attached end to end like a giant land train.  It’s a fascinating piece of innovation. The two sleeper cars have running water, flush toilets, comfortable bunk beds with privacy curtains and custom thermostats for each bunk.  Meanwhile each also has a window allowing for an intimate view of the wild tundra.  When I first heard about the lodge, I thought it would be a fixed building.  When I learned it was deep inside the national park and mobile, I was slightly confused. When I first saw it, I expected it to be rough and rugged.  Once we boarded it and reached our bunks, I found myself shocked and impressed.  The seemingly daunting prospect of spending three days without touching the ground was quickly disappearing.  The only thing that was missing?  Wifi. Which, in retrospect, I’m glad was absent.  It kept us more social and the experience more authentic, engaged, and detached from society and the world at large.

Wild Polar Bears in Churchill

The bears are drawn to the point an hour and a half outside of Churchill by mother nature.  Recharged and relaxed after a warm summer spent to the south, they migrate en masse to the area to wait, not unlike a restless boarding party waiting for their ferry, for the ice to begin to freeze and the Hudson Bay to transform from restless waves into a frozen desert.  The point rests horizontally when viewed on maps.  A dam of sorts that slows down the counter-clockwise rotation of the bay’s currents. At the same time nearby rivers dump fresh water into the bay, water which floats atop the currents, gathers against the dam, and then freezes before the rest of the Hudson Bay’s salty frozen waves. Somehow the bears figured this out generations ago and now they gather, waiting eagerly, to be the first ones out onto the ice.  Anticipating the opportunity to hunt seal and whale alike, feasting and preparing for the depths of winter and hibernation.

Red Fox in Churchill

As I prepared for the trip I told myself I’d be happy if I saw one polar bear.  If I got lucky, I figured I’d see two and they might be active. As it turned out, our timing was fantastic and in addition to clear blue skies and cold weather there were a lot of bears.  Our position at the lodge was also smack dab in the middle of their congregating spot which meant zero commute time and provided us with the opportunity to watch the bears under the setting moon and during sunrise. The end result? Bears. Lots and lots of bears.  While it’s impossible to guess which bears we saw multiple times, I’d put the number at more than 10 and possibly closer to 15 over the course of our stay.  We also had the opportunity to see several beautiful birds, a red fox, and a white arctic fox.  The bears were typically active early in the morning and again late in the afternoon just before sunset.

Wild Polar Bears in Churchill

To say that the bears were active is, perhaps, a bit of an understatement. One of the great highlights of the trip came after four bears had ambled into the area, become acquainted, and paired up.  Then, they began to play. But, these bears didn’t play like you and I might.  They play fought, which often drew blood and resulted in flying snow mixed in with long trails of spittle.  Acquainted, the bears would collide with each other, battling for a minute or so, and then wander off to cool down briefly before throwing themselves at each other once again.  Eventually two squared off about 25 feet away from our vehicle, while another two started to circle 300 feet or so in the distance.  Then, almost as if on cue, the two sets took to their hind legs and began to circle simultaneously – a bit like two boxers sizing each other up – they would take a few swings, collide against each other, and then battle with teeth, legs, paws and claws.  It was incredible.  Where I’d only hoped to see one polar bear lounging in the kelp, I found myself watching four engaged in mock combat, all framed by frozen kelp, fresh snow, and the gray blues of the Hudson Bay in the background.

Moon Setting and Sleeping Polar Bear

The previous morning had started before sunrise.  When it’s close to -10 Celsius outside and there is a bitter cold wind to go with it, getting up isn’t easy.  Luckily, we managed, scarfed down our food, and were in the truck as the moon started to speed up its descent towards the horizon.  We had been lucky to arrive during a massive full moon.  Its pale white light lit up the early morning tundra and was powerful enough that if not for the bears, it would have been possible to walk the tundra at night without a flashlight. Once we boarded the Tundra Buggy and started to move, we paused almost immediately – perhaps 25 feet from the lodge.  There, not too far from camp, was a lazing polar bear finishing her evening nap.  Our driver artfully lined us up and I watched in awe.  What transpired was one of the most powerful and captivating moments I’ve ever experienced. It was THE “National Geographic Moment” of the trip and one of the most spectacular things I’ve seen to date.  The full moon slowly slid down towards the horizon…closer-and-closer to the thin line of hazy clouds that floated just above the Hudson Bay’s choppy waves.

Setting Moon and Polar Bear in Churchill

At the same time the first reds and orange hues of sunrise started to settle over the tundra.  They turned the full moon a brilliant pinkish-red and gave it the look of the setting sun.   Then, the moon began to merge with the horizon, its deep red cut by the clouds and reflected by the ocean.   It was at that moment, as the moon slowly sank below the horizon, that the polar bear lifted its head, and looked at us.  I snapped one more photo and then paused, staring back at the bear, taking in the moment. I was completely ensnared in the magic of it.  Awestruck by the purity of the moment and its rare beauty.  Then it was gone. The final blood-red lip of the moon slipped below the horizon, the bear returned to its nap, and the bright reds of pre-dawn began to light the sky, slowly growing in intensity until the sun finally burst through the clouds and began to climb its way northward.

Frozen Ice Patterns in Churchill

The great thing about Wapusk National Park and being out at the Tundra Buggy Lodge was that even without the bears it was stunning.  You’re out in the midst of a national park in the heart of Canada’s rugged and rural interior. There is always wildlife in the form of small birds and ground game and the light is incredible.   The sunrises are gorgeous. The view of the moonlit tundra late at night, the vivid colors reflecting off snow, ice, and water during sunrise, all combine to create a magical dream-like place. Other small details that really stuck with me were the wonderful patterns frozen into the ice where the wind blew as the water froze.  The only tiny disappointment was the lack of northern lights but the brilliant moments under a full moon and our incredible luck with the bears more than made up for it.

Wild Polar Bears in Churchill

You can see my complete polar bear album here which includes 152 shots of bears playing, relaxing, and fighting.  It was shot on a  Canon T3i (600D).  You can also see footage of polar bears playing, relaxing, and wandering over on my youtube channel.   My trip was made possible through a prize I won through the Canadian Tourism Board (Keep Exploring!) and Frontiers North/Tundra Buggy.

This is Part III in my three part series about my trip to Churchill, Manitoba.  You can find information about the cost, and logistics in Part I as well as info about Churchill.  Also, in Part II you can read about my introduction to Dog Sledding.

My Top 5 Travel Videos From 2012

Alex Berger Year In Review

In 2012 I filmed a ton of HD video footage as part of my mission to do more videos.  A lot of that footage still needs to be edited.  My equipment has also improved a lot over the course of the year as has my understanding of how to create and edit a video.  Ultimately, I ended up uploading 22 videos that highlight everything from student life here in Copenhagen to polar bears waging fairly epic mock battles in Churchill, Canada.  I’ve gone through and picked 5 of my favorites, but you can see all of the videos over on youtube. I’ll also be adding a bunch of new ones over 2013 (already have the footage from Prague and Scotland lined up!) so make sure to subscribe.

1. The Great Polar Bear Migration

2. The Death of a Hippo (May make you cry)

3. A Video Tour of Cappadocia in the Snow

4. Tasting Olive Oil (watch to the end)

5. The South Luangwa Safari (Wildlife Footage)

These are just a few of the year’s videos and there are quite a few that just barely missed the list (underground cave cities and sleepy lion cubs to name a few).  Now that the year is winding down and i’m forced to pause for a breather and reflect on the past year, it’s amazing to recall just how different the start of the year which was spent in Turkey and Italy was from the summer which I spent in the heart of Africa and Northern Scotland and which was a stark contrast to end of the year which I rounded out in rural Canada.

Video was shot predominantly on my Canon Vixia HF200 and my Canon T3i (600D) dSLR. Voice overs used my iphoneor the built in microphone on the HF 200.

Thank you all so much for your support in 2012, your feedback, your kind words, your likes, your shares, and your attention.

Have special requests for 2012 or questions? Let me know!

Polar Bears Touching Noses – Weekly Travel Photo

Wild Polar Bears in Churchill

Not only is this week Polar Bear Week, it’s also getting pretty darn cold here in Denmark. So, for today’s Friday Photo I’ve selected these two polar bears giving each other a playful nose nuzzle mid-fight. Luckily the “fight” was just for fun and to fill a quiet afternoon!  Watching the bears interact and play fight it’s easy to see why native populations believed the bears were people wearing bear suits.  The bear’s elegance and surprising ability to stand, walk and fight upright has a very human feel to it!

This photo was taken in Wapusk National Park just outside of the town of Churchill in Manitoba, Canada.  I snapped it as part of a three day Tundra Buggy Tour with Frontiers North Adventures during which we had the chance to enjoy the polar bears relaxing, playing, eating, and generally wandering around exercising their limitless curiosity.

Would you like to see previous Friday Photos? View past travel pictures here. This photo was taken on a Canon T3i (600D) Camera using a Canon IS 55-250mm lens.

Polar Bears and Lunar Sunsets – Friday Travel Photo

Polar Bears in Churchill

There are moments while traveling that stay with you. When the magic of the experience infuses itself into the very essence of you who are. As I sat bundled beneath five layers of clothing, staring out the window of a Tundra Buggy on the rural Canadian tundra in northern Manitoba just outside Churchill I was able to experience one such moment.  The evening had been mostly cloud-free, the brilliant light of a full moon reflecting off of the frozen lakes and snow covered tundra that surrounded our mobile lodge.  As the sun began to work its way over the far horizon, the moon slowly began to slip away over the ocean.

It was a magical moment that lasted mere minutes.  Even if it had only been a matter of watching the two orbs reflecting each other’s light it would have been a special sight to see.  But, in a stroke of brilliant luck, we found a large, beautiful polar bear relaxing near the lodge.   With numb noses, and half-frozen fingers we found ourselves watching the moon set behind her bathed in the soft hues and gorgeous tones of a brilliant dawn.

I’ll never forget the sight of the polar bear as she relaxed, looking at us as she debated rising to start her day. The trip was organized by Frontiers North and through the Canadian Tourism Commission as part of the spectacular trip I won at the Travel Bloggers Unite Conference. If you have the opportunity to do a Polar Bear safari I highly suggest it.  They are amazing creatures and the opportunity to see them in their native/wild habitat is an incredibly special experience.

Would you like to see previous Friday Photos? View past travel pictures here. This photo was taken on a Canon T3i (600D) Camera using a Canon IS 55-250mm lens.

An Opportunity to Play With Polar Bears in Canada

Copenhagen Zoo

I’m a massive polar bear fan.  It’s hard to give just one reason why.  Perhaps it is their massive size or the exotic nature of their native regions.  It may be their pension for making ridiculous looking faces. Or perhaps it’s because they serve as a powerful reminder of the cost and danger of climate change. Likely it’s all of the above.  Regardless of the specific reason, seeing polar bears in their natural habitat has been on my list for a long, long time.  When I made the decision to accept the University of Copenhagen’s invitation for my masters, I harbored the not-so-secret hope that I’d be able to partner with one of the Svalbard/Greenland tour groups based out of Denmark and leaving from Scandinavia to see the bears.  Somehow that seemed like a more realistic way of seeing the bears than making the voyage from Arizona up to north/central Canada and into the heart of polar bear country. Which is odd, because the heart of Canada has been near the top of my travel list for a long time and makes far more sense for US-based travelers. Of course, with most cold and exotic climates the key challenge has been how to explore it on my limited budget and as a solo-traveler.

American Beauty The Bearmix

So imagine my excitement when I arrived at the Travel Bloggers Unite conference in Umbria, Italy and discovered that one of the sponsors – the Canadian Tourism Commission – was running a contest for two iPad 3s with the winner receiving an expense paid trip to Churchill, Manitoba along Hudson Bay to see the polar bears out on the ice and in their natural habitat. While rarely one to win a competition or prize I was, as you might imagine, pretty excited about the opportunity. It offered me the opportunity to knock out two birds with one incredible stone – a chance to see what I suspect to be some of the most beautiful natural beauty on earth while coming nose to nose with the great white bears of the north.

Bear Taking A Breather

The rules were simple.  We were all given a small bear and encouraged to tweet compelling photos of our bear with the hashtag #bearwatch.  At the end of the second day a representative from the Canada team would review the bear shots and choose two favorites.  The grand prize winner would then be invited to Canada to watch the bears.

Super Sexy Jacuzzi Bear

My approach was to take a variety of shots as I went about my regular conference business. The shots covered a wide range of activities and moods – from fun and slightly inappropriate to classy and elegant. Ultimately, I’m not sure which bear shot sealed the deal (though it sounded like it was the sum effect of the series of shots) but I’m thrilled to say I won the grand prize. Which is to say that later this year (October or November depending on scheduling) I’ll be partnering with the Canadian Tourism Commission for a trip deep into the heart of Canada to explore some of the world’s most amazing territory while watching one of nature’s greatest predators amble across the frozen waters of Hudson Bay.  An experience that I cannot wait to share with you all, and which I’ll be documenting (in part) via the brand new iPad 3 that came as a secondary prize.

Lazy Bear

There were a ton of great entries, and I encourage you all to head over to the Pinterest board that showcases them all.  Canada has a lot to offer and has really made a strong effort over the last year or two to get the word out. Fellow TBU attendee and travel blogger Cherina of Quiet Wanderings recently did the same trip and took amazing shots. You can head over and check out her post here. I can’t wait to see more of the country and am counting the days until this fall when I’ll have the chance to explore a region I’ve previously only read and dreamed about.

Anyone have any exciting or odd facts about polar bears to share?

The Danish Animal House! Photos From A Day at the Copenhagen Zoo

Copenhagen Zoo Mother Cat

In my effort to round out my Copenhagen introductory experience I quickly realized that the Copenhagen Zoo was a must visit.  With a reputation for being one of the best zoos in Europe it boasted stellar review after stellar review online. Eager to try and catch the 1PM feeding I pulled up the zoo’s website, glanced at a map and set off.  Unfortunately the trip to Fasanvej St. station (which I felt was the closest and easiest walk to the Zoo) took slightly longer than expected….and then I goofed. Instead of heading south, I accidentally began heading north and didn’t realize my mistake until I’d gone 3 or 4 blocks.   At which time 1PM was 5 minutes away and a light rain had begun to fall.  No longer on a strict timetable I ducked into a corner kebab shop and ordered lunch hoping the rain would pass in the 20 or so minutes it would take me to eat.

Copenhagen Zoo Tower

It didn’t and unfortunately it may have even picked up slightly.  But, un-perturbed I stepped out into the light rain and began backtracking towards the station before blazing a new southerly path.  The rain was relatively light and left me damp but lacked sufficient strength to send me running for cover. If anything it added a slight skip to my step as I found myself humming Singing in the Rain and splashing my way through a beautiful, sprawling palatial garden. After getting slightly lost I stumbled onto an open viewing area where the park opened up onto the back side of the zoo’s Elephant enclosure. In place of the high walls you’d expect blocking out non-paying visitors there was a low electric fence, moat, and railing.  From there it was only a matter of a few turns before I found myself standing in front of the Zoo’s entrance.

Copenhagen Zoo

Then I faced a small quandary. It was still raining, gray and showed no sign of letting up.  But, that’s how the weather had been the previous three days, and each time after an hour or so the clouds broke, the rain stopped, and the weather transitioned into beautiful afternoons.  I had the entire afternoon to wait it out, was reading my Dad’s book and had little desire to rush, so I opted to risk the 140 DKK ($28 USD) entrance fee and went for it. Once inside I quickly found my way to one of the Zoo’s small cafe’s where I secured a quiet corner table and began reading. Before long the rain stopped, clouds broke, and as one the animals and I left our dry hiding spaces to enjoy the sunshine and fresh, crisp, clean post storm air.

Copenhagen Zoo

After a quick stop in the Flamingo enclosure I found my way to the Lion’s den.  To my absolute delight the entire pride was out and active wandering the enclosure, playfully relaxing and from time to time babysitting the pack of small cubs.

Copenhagen Zoo

I couldn’t believe my luck.  Not only were all of the lions out and active, the enclosure itself was extremely conducive to viewing them with the usual close up cement walls with smeared and fogged up glass windows only taking up a small portion of the viewing area. The rest consisted of a large, long, and open railing wrapping around 1/3 of the habitat. With the lions out and about it offered an incredible view.  It was hands down the best chance I’ve had to view lions – normally in Phoenix and the other Zoo’s I’ve been in the view has consisted of little more than furry lion’s paws sticking out of the grass, or a long tail dangling from one of the enclosure’s small caves.

Copenhagen Zoo Monkey

From there it was on to the monkey enclosures where most of the monkeys were relaxing, nibbling on food and enjoying the sun’s warmth. You’ll note that the little guy in the image above seemed to have it all figured out.  What better way to spend an afternoon than outside taking a nap in the sun?

Copenhagen Zoo Sunbather

Speaking of sunbathing, even this turtle in one of the internal butterfly and bird enclosures seemed to have it all figured out. Stuck inside? Can’t enjoy the sunlight? No bother – bring the sunlight to you! Personally though, I have a hunch he’s going to have a pretty difficult time getting a tan through that shell, it’s probably a smudge stronger than SPF 45.

Copenhagen Zoo

Attached to the butterfly enclosure was a large dark hallway lined with individually lit frog, insect and snake aquariums.  One of the largest served as home to a small army of brightly covered jungle frogs. While no doubt terribly poisonous to touch, their rich colors and vibrant markings make them some of the most attractive amphibians I’ve ever seen in person.

Copenhagen Zoo

A little further down the hall, however, was this lovely couple.  Closer to what one might expect these guys possessed a certain dinosaur esq look struck quite the pose. Quite the couple, relaxing and enjoying their vibrantly colored flower bed.

Copenhagen Zoo

From there it was on to the Chimpanzee enclosure which was completely inside and housed a surprisingly large chimpanzee population including grown males, females and young children.  I’m always torn on Zoos. On the one hand I love them for the opportunity to see amazing creatures up close and for the opportunity they present to protect endangered, injured, or domesticated animals. On the other hand – well, this photo sums it up pretty perfectly. There’s the sad sense of the jailhouse blues seeing some of the animals locked away in man-made enclosures.

Copenhagen Zoo

After winding my way out of the Chimpanzee enclosure I found myself entering another building.  This one, it turned out, was actually the back side of the outdoor monkey enclosures I had visited earlier and offered a mixture of in-door extensions of the enclosures as well as several smaller, entirely indoor areas for some of the smaller and incredibly adorable monkeys.

Copenhagen Zoo

From there it was on over to the Tiger enclosure where three of the large cats were relaxing and enjoying the sun…until, that is, this little guy woke up from his nap and got a bit bored.

Copenhagen Zoo Tiger

After a hearty yawn – at least I’m hoping that’s what it was – and a bit of stretching he did what any good natured cat would do.  Decided to stalk prey.

Copenhagen Zoo

On massive padded paws he slowly stalked his way towards his sleeping cage-mate…inching forward slowly….then eventually pouncing on his sleeping target who was, as you might imagine, not entirely thrilled at rude awakening. Oh, and have no fear. The above photo is completely innocent.

Copenhagen Zoo

The unamused cage mate quickly woke up and let his (or her) general disapproval be known – though you can tell by the provocateur’s ears that he was still finding the reaction absolutely entertaining.

Copenhagen Zoo

Unfortunately, as anyone who has ever ambushed a friend or family member in their sleep knows, while hysterical to watch, they do tend to be a bit grumpy after. This was no exception, but after a quick chiding the two collapsed to the dirt and returned to their lazy afternoon lounging, no worse for wear.

Copenhagen Zoo

Around the corner I quickly came face to face with the Leopard enclosure. As with the rest of the spaces in the Zoo I was shocked at how many animals the enclosure was home to as I counted four, possibly five leopards in their sprawling and thickly shaded cage.  Seeing the animals in such a social environment, many with young children or nurslings in tow really gave me a lot of added respect for the Copenhagen Zoo team and their approach.

Copenhagen Zoo

Located just around the corner from the leopards was a small otter enclosure.  These three goofballs had found the perfect perch for staring at passing tourists, often at eye level.  Their playful antics as they huddled, drying off in the sun’s warmth reminded me of the three stooges and one of their comedy routines.

Copenhagen Zoo

From there it was up, past two lounging red pandas to the sea lion enclosure. Not to be outdone by the otters the sea lion enclosure was in the midst of a feeding/show when I arrived. After barking on command, shaking hands, waving, and a plethora of other adorable tricks the sea lion’s trainers would send them off to one of the corners before calling over a new performer.

Copenhagen Zoo

The sea lions were extremely responsive, playful, and as you’ll note in the image above quite talented. On more than one occasion I was surprised to see them leap out of the water to touch nose to suspended ball, or trainer’s finger tips.

Copenhagen Zoo

As the sea lions performed, the penguins in the partially attached enclosure immediately next to them fought for attention. Several forming small groups before waddling their way in front of each other where they proceeded to honk and peck at each other. Who knew that penguins rolled in gangs when imprisoned in the big house? From there it was on past a small pack of beautiful wolves enjoying mottled shade and into the bear section of the Zoo.

Copenhagen Zoo

There I was immediately greeted by this goofy little guy who spent the majority of his time lounging in the pool, looking guilty and playing with toys while his mother and two younger brothers wandered the enclosure causing trouble.

Copenhagen Zoo

While mom waited for dinner, and kept an eye on things from an interesting perch in the middle of the structure, two of her cubs entertained them selves as boys will…

Copenhagen Zoo

…in a playful, clumsy, and utterly adorable bear face-off. Nose to nose. Paw to paw. Standing as tall as they could they’d grapple before one would break away, racing a large circle around the enclosure before pausing to have at it once again.

Copenhagen Zoo

As time drifted by and I watched them play they eventually all gathered to wait while one of the zoo keepers rustled around behind the enclosure. Though it looked more like they were taking standing and walking lessons than waiting for anything in particular.

Copenhagen Zoo

Located a stones throw away from the brown bear family was the polar bear enclosure which serves as home for two large, gorgeous polar bears.

Copenhagen Zoo

Full of character one was kind enough to pose for me briefly, striking a classic pose which you might recognize from music videos and malls all over America.  After a quick pose he turned, sticking his tongue out at me and looking generally pleased with himself.

Copenhagen Zoo

As I’m sure you may have noticed by now, it seemed like every one was in the best of moods. Both animals and humans alike.  After watching him mime for the camera a bit more and shooting several more shots I set off past the leopard seal enclosure and towards the tunnel which winds under a road and into the second half of the park.

Copenhagen Zoo

The second half of the park is home to a number of animals, including this gorgeous and slightly ferocious mother caracal which you may recall from the start of this entry.  Let me tell you, few things stand out in my memory quite like making eye contact with her, perhaps 8 inches away from each other, face to face, as she stood on top of a barrel and expressed her annoyance with  my proximity to her little ones. After snapping two quick shots I respected her wishes and backed off giving her a bit of space.

Copenhagen Zoo

Her two little ones were adorable kittens with captivating eyes and pure, adorable, kitten innocence. They found their way to the floor to ceiling glass and playfully rolled around attacking small bugs, sticks of grass, and anything that happened to be in range, which included attempts – despite the class – to nibble on a few small children’s fingers and my camera strap.

Copenhagen Zoo

The far side of the Zoo contained a large giraffe family, several hippos, birds, zebras and to my surprise a large petting zoo and domestic exhibit including highland horses, several cows, pigs and chickens.

Copenhagen Zoo

The Copenhagen Zoo was absolutely incredible. I was blown away by the layout, the treatment of the animals, their general energy, and the magnificent way the day turned out. I truly couldn’t have asked for a better day at the Zoo. I’m absolutely thrilled with how my gamble turned out and hope to revisit to zoo again sometime soon. I already miss all of my new furry, feathered and scaled friends!

The photos in this post were shot on a Canon Powershot G11. Learn more about it and the Canon G12 here.