Polar bears now rank with whales and spotted owls as BFD environmental mascots, thanks to Arctic climate change, a recent Endangered Species listing, and their natural "leading-man" screen presence. Because of their higher profile, it's reasonable to assume that more humans will want to get better acquainted with the world's largest land carnivore.
But while those other species inspire pursuits that include looking at them from afar through teensy lenses (whale watching, spotted owl...searching), polar bears are much more 2.0 than that. At the Polar Bear Habitat in Cochrane, Ontario, Canada, visitors are encouraged to swim with the polar bears. And most of those visitors are kids, who already come in convenient, nugget-like sizes for the bears.
But don't worry — our northern neighbors may be crazy (um, Kraftdinner, anyone?), but they're not feeding their children wholesale to captive bears. Swimmers are separated from the bears by a 9-centimeter, bulletproof, shatterproof glass. From behind the glass, visitors can watch the great white behemoths swim, frolic, and lick their chops. The four bears range in age from 7 to 28, and trainers say they show as much curiosity in the kids as the kids show in them.
"It's a unique and incredible experience. Our old bear, Bisitek, loves to swim or just stand and watch for hours. She isn't hunting - just curious. Sometimes she jumps at the window which really scares the kids, but as far as she's concerned it's just play," said Project Conservation Director Patricia Morin.
But what would happen if something happened to the glass?
"For sure the humans would be eaten, but that will never happen," she said.
Ah, of course. That will never happen. Ha ha...I feel much better.
Via The Adventurist
Image Credit: Polar Bear Habitat & Heritage Village