4 Polar Bear Adventures from Low to High
Our travel blogger Corinne McDermott shares her picks for March Break adventures
Right now my daughter is a tad obsessed with polar bears. I think I also went through such a phase when I was younger – looking at pictures of the seemingly cuddly creatures made me feel all warm and fuzzy. I refused to believe that polar bears were ferocious. How could something that cute possibly want to eat me?
With March Break around the corner, I was thinking about places we could go so my daughter could learn more about these beautiful and terrifying beasts that, sadly, many fear may be extinct by 2050. I’ll let you guess which one of these experiences we’ll probably end up doing…
The highly-anticipated Tundra Trek at the Toronto Zoo opened back in August of 2009, and we were definitely excited to see the return of the polar bears to the Toronto Zoo. The enclosure is usually
our first stop when we visit the zoo, and we’ve always been treated to an impromptu swimming performance by at least one bear.While their new pad was being renovated, Inukshuk, Nikita and Aurora hung out up north at…
This “bear-centred facility” is situated on five acres of northern Ontario terrain, and visitors have the opportunity to take in the rugged northern landscapes while walking along the three large outdoor bear enclosures. If visiting between May and October, pack your swimsuit, as there is a 3ft. deep heated wading pool that allows you to swim with the polar bears, separated by a 10-inch-thick glass wall, that is. Cochrane is in northern Ontario. Like WAY north. Like north of Timmins north. The Polar Bear Habitat is open year-round, Monday to Sunday from 10am – 4pm, with a “Meet The Bears” schedule with times varying by day. The wading pool is open from May until October.
Born in December of 2006, Knut captured the world’s heart and attention when his mother abandoned him as a snowball-sized cub and a cruel (think Winter Warlock from Santa Claus Is Comin’ To Town) animal rights activist argued that the bear should have been left to die. Given round-the-clock care by his trainer, Thomas Dörflein (who sadly died of a heart attack in 2008), Knut flourished on his diet of baby formula mixed with cod liver oil, cat food mixed with porridge, and vitamins.
Save for a few crazy people jumping into his enclosure, and a nasty custody battle between the Berlin Zoo and a zoo in northern Germany that houses Knut’s father, Knut leads a peaceful life. He hangs out in his enclosure and his future role may include becoming a stud for other zoos to help preserve his species.
Now we can’t do this one, but not because my daughter’s not yet 8 (the minimum age to participate), but possibly because Baobab’s six day expedition near Churchill, Manitoba starts at $5,894 per person, sharing. To quote the press release:
“Besides discovering the polar bears on a two day excursion in the comfort of a Tundra Buggy®, you’ll visit historic Cape Merry, once a fur-trading post for the Hudson Bay Company; tour the historic port of Churchill; experience the Manitoba Conservation’s Polar Bear Holding Facility which enables people to co-exist with bears; and visit the Eskimo Museum for its Inuit carvings, ancient kayaks and artifacts from historic tribes. The Tundra Buggies are built to glide across the tundra easily. Complete with dual pane, frost-free windows and propane heating which looks like a cozy fireplace behind glass, the warm buggies give a great view of the bears as they roam the Hudson Bay ice hunting seals and performing their antics. Your knowledgeable guide will explain the bears’ behavior and how they thrive in a harsh environment. A picnic-style lunch and snacks are served on-board each day as you marvel at the colorful arctic plants and hundreds of Beluga whales. On your last day, you will go dog sledding with dog sledding experts. Afterwards the mushers will share with you their dog sledding adventures. Later you depart for Winnipeg, Manitoba, and your journey home.”
If money were no object, this would be my ideal way to see polar bears up close.
Corinne McDermott is the founder of Have Baby Will Travel – your online guide for travel with babies, toddlers & young children. From baby packing lists to tips on coping with jet lag in toddlers, Have Baby Will Travel wants to help you get away with your baby! For more, visit Corinne’s Have Baby Will Travel blog, follow @hvbabywilltrvl on Twitter and like us on Facebook, where Corinne welcomes your questions and comments.
Image via Baobab Expeditions