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An Up-Close Encounter with Bratatouille, a Bold Polar Bear in Churchill Manitoba

When The Wild Canadian Year crew wanted to film polar bears in 360, they set up their rig and crossed their fingers and waited for a polar bear to approach. They didn’t anticipate what would happen next.

Each fall, nearly 800 polar bears travel to a small stretch of Hudson Bay coastline to wait for the return of sea ice. They’re hungry because they haven’t had a decent meal in months.

The crew selected a location where polar bears were known to visit, a property owned by a local man who raises a rare breed of working dogs, the Canadian Eskimo Dog. The polar bears swing by often, hoping to steal a morsel of food.

To capture the polar bears in action, the crew knew the 360 camera rig would need to be elevated to avoid the curious, giant predators.

"Polar bears are naturally very curious and they like to explore the world around them with their mouth. And we knew our 360 camera rig wouldn't last long if a polar bear decided to bite it," says producer Jeff Morales.

So they built a rig that could be stabilized with barbells and snow and quickly deployed on location.

Their careful setup proved its value when Bratatouille, a regular visitor, was fascinated by the strange new addition to the landscape. He found the mound of snow intriguing and spent considerable effort trying to dig up the stones to get to the plastic barbell. When that didn’t work, he swung to the metal post to get a closer look at the camera.

"It was good we made the effort," Morales said. "Had the camera been resting on the ground, the camera would have been toast."

The result is an unusual close-up look at a polar bear investigating a new object that has grabbed its attention.

The Wild Canadian Year continues Sundays at 8 pm on CBC-TV.

The Wild Canadian Year

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