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Category — Polar Bear International

‘Polar Bear Capitol of the World’

First off, happy Canadian Thanksgiving!

Day 2 began bright and early with our flight out of Winnipeg to Churchill. Once we arrived in Churchill, we loaded everything including ourselves onto a charter bus. We made a few stops during that time, the first being at Cape Mary. All campers got individual photos along with our group photo next to the Hudson Bay shore.  Next we got to see Eskimo dogs, which live outside on the outskirts of town all year long. They are used as sled dogs and some for protection from polar bears. Our next stop was the Prince of Wales Fort where we spotted one or two beluga whales, probably some of the last few still around the bay this season. Our final stop in the charter bus was at the Polar Bear Holding Facility. Churchill used to have the Polar Bear Control Program which started in the 1960’s and they basically shot any bears that caused a nuisance. Today, it is now called the Polar Bear Alert Program and it ensures the safety of the town, people’s property, and the polar bears. If anyone in town sights a wondering bear, they call 675-BEAR to report it. The rangers from the holding facility then come and try to scare the bear away with an assortment of loud noises, and this usually does the trick. Of course there are the trouble bears that have several offenses, and you can tell because they have a green mark on their shoulder blade. In this case, trouble bears spend time in the holding facility or “bear jail” and then later released in a different location. This same process is used for the bears that are caught in bear traps. Our group got a demo of the guns used to scare off the bears, and also how the bear traps are triggered.

The charter then took us to our Tundra Buggy! After moving all our supply to the buggies, we set out for the Tundra Buggy Lodge.  On the way to the lodge, the first animal spotted was a beautiful silver fox. He apparently had found food we think he buried himself, and he wasn’t going to give whatever it was up because he hung out right next to the buggies. Following the fox we saw tundra swans and multiple types of birds, but then we finally caught a glimpse of our first polar bear. I can’t fully explain what I felt; I was just in shock because out of nowhere there was this magnificent bear. The group got emotional when we found the next two bears, right next to the lodge. They were a lot closer than the first one and the sun was setting, leaving gorgeous streaks of reds, yellows, pinks, and oranges through the sky. This was also a no cameras allowed moment; all we did was watch and take it all in. I was so happy, but the feeling was sobered when I thought of the possibility of losing such an animal as the polar bear.  As we going on living our lives, they are living theirs. They don’t know what is happening to the ice, but we do and we can help. That’s what camp is for, learning how to do our part and being inspired. I can’t wait to see what is in store for the week. The day ended with a delicious Thanksgiving dinner!

October 11, 2011   3 Comments

It’s Manitoba Time

I started my day this morning at 4 am (and let me tell you, I am not a morning person). My plane to Minneapolis left Cincinnati at 7 am, and I then had a 3 and a half hour layover. As it turns out, I met up with 7 others attending camp who had connecting flights from Minneapolis to Winnipeg. Both flights were only a little over an hour. Not too bad!

My group from Minneapolis was actually one of the first flights to arrive. The first sign I saw in Winnipeg said “It’s Manitoba Time” and it had a polar bear on it, I couldn’t believe I was actually in Canada though and I still don’t to be honest. We then literally walked right across the street to our hotel. People have been arriving from all over ever since. There are girls from Pittsburg who had serious flight issues and won’t get here till midnight. One camper from Tennessee, Olivia, hasn’t been feeling good since she arrived. They said if she isn’t feeling better she has to go home because of the risk of getting others sick. Hopefully she will sleep it off tonight.   

This whole experience is still surreal to me. I have met people from Oregon, Connecticut, North Carolina, Minnesota, Tennessee, and other places from all over the U.S. and Canada. They all are just as excited as I am, and I feel like I have known some of them for a long time. I have also met adults associated with different zoos and aquariums because the teen camp is combined with the communicator camp this year. Everyone participated in different games to get to know each other better, and then had a wonderful dinner. Following our meal, we got to hear from Bill Watkins to learn a little more about the Churchill area. He is a biologist who lives here in Winnipeg and studies endangered species. So, we are off to a great start! It is off to bed now because we have another early morning ahead of us. Our flight to Churchill leaves at 7:20 am, can’t wait!

October 9, 2011   10 Comments

Seeing Polar Bears in the Wild

Excitement at CREW is steadily growing! In less than a week, Caitlynn Turner will be representing the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden at Polar Bears International Teen Leadership Camp in Churchill Manitoba. Caitlynn impressed us all last fall when she rallied her team “Impact” to compete in PBI’s Project Polar Bear Contest. Her creativity, dedication and hard work were evident in the way she engaged her schoolmates and community in reducing CO2 emissions in the atmosphere. However, what was really impressive about Caitlynn was her contagious enthusiasm and thirst for knowledge about saving arctic ice, the polar bear and its ecosystem.

Caitlynn Heading to Teen Leadership Camp

At Leadership Camp Caitlynn and 14 other teens will get the unique opportunity to not only learn about polar bears and their ecosystem but actually see polar bears in the wild. These teens prepare for their journey months before they ever set foot on the tundra mostly by reading assigned materials and thinking about how to save polar bears once they get home—through community projects and leadership skills.
We will be following Caitlynn’s life-changing polar bear adventure through her blog from camp. We invite you to do so too!
Good luck Caitlynn! We wish you the very best and can’t wait to hear about the amazing things you do at camp and plan to do upon your return.

October 4, 2011   No Comments