If a polar bear had a passport, which country’s passport would that polar bear carry? In the wild, polar bears spend most of their lives on the sea ice of the Arctic Ocean.
On 5 October, Henry, the first polar bear born in Australia in 30 years left Australia on a big journey to Canada. Henry was born at Sea World on the Gold Coast in Queensland.
As a Queenslander, I had been following his antics from birth. Henry was often featured in local newspapers, after all who doesn’t love a baby polar bear? Take a look at these cute polar bear pictures of Henry.
Henry’s big Canadian trip
On 5 October, Henry went on his first overseas trip. It was an adventure from Sea World on the Gold Coast to the Cochrane Polar Bear Habitat in Ontario, Canada. Henry is to play a role in the International Polar Bear conservation and breeding program.
Henry’s father, Nelson, was born in Canada (Nelson was an orphaned bear rescued by the Quebec Government) and his mother Liya’s Russian genetic line will add to the Canadian polar bear gene pool.
Liya was displaying typical mating behaviours, which meant she was ready to breed again, so Henry had to go.
Transporting a polar bear from Australia to Canada is a military exercise.
According to Sea World, although Henry has been moved to the Cochrane facility, Henry will continue to be part of Sea World’s Polar bear population and Sea World’s team will continue to play a role in his future.
Cochrane is a town in north-eastern Ontario. It’s a one-hour drive northeast of Timmins, which is the region’s main city.
If you’ve been to Canada and eaten (or borrowed the free Wi-Fi) at a Tim Horton’s doughnut and coffee chain, you’ll be interested to hear that Cochrane is the birthplace of Tim Horton who founded the chain in 1964. Tim is also a player member of the Hockey Hall of Fame.
Cochrane Polar Bear Habitat was set up solely for the purpose of caring for polar bears. There are three outdoor exhibits spread across two and half acres of terrain designed with pools, trees, rocks and natural vegetation.
The Polar Bear Express train connects Cochrane to Moosonee and runs during the summer months along the Arctic Watershed.
It’s a journey crossing historic highways of the fur trade passing hydroelectric dams, isolated homes and wildlife.
Canada winter paradise
Canada is a winter paradise (not just for polar bears). If you’re a skier you’ll love the diversity of ski fields and resorts, particularly in British Columbia and Alberta.
Quebec also has some excellent ski resorts. And the apres ski scene is an attraction even for those who don’t ski. And you’ll love the sweet taste of taffy in one of Quebec’s sugar shacks.
Cities like Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal and Calgary come alive with festivals and events.
In autumn, the leaves of many shades of spun gold in Quebec are truly amazing. The best time to see polar bears in the wild is around October to November.
Polar bear adventure
Although the polar bear population is decreasing worldwide, scientists believe the amount of bears might actually be increasing in some parts of Canada.
The town of Churchill in Manitoba is the “polar bear capital of the world.”
Wild polar bears gather at Hudson Bay waiting for the water to freeze but as soon as sturdy ice forms, they’re off to hunt for seals.
You can take a Tundra Buggy Day Tour for a close look at the polar bears with Frontiers North or stay in a safari lodge like Rapid Lake Lodge in northern Quebec or Churchill Wild’s collection of polar bear lodges in the Arctic. Another option is an Arctic Kingdom for polar bear photography safaris and wildlife adventure safari in the Arctic travelling by snowmobile and Inuit sleds.
Back to my original question then. Which country does Henry belong to? Canada or Australia? Leave you answers in the comments field below.