In honor of Polar Bear Week and International Polar Bear Day, Nat Hab staffers will be sharing tales from the tundra of Churchill. Today, Kendal Yoakum recounts a special moment between a mama polar bear and her cubs during her trip to Churchill this past fall. 


Kendal (left) and Nat Hab staffer Kit Longnecker. (c) Kendal Yoakum

Last October I had the pleasure of traveling to Churchill, Manitoba to visit the polar bears. Prior to the trip, my only experience with the King of the Arctic was from behind the concrete walls of a zoo. While I made so many incredible memories, and I’ll share one further down, there’s one aspect of the trip that will stay with me forever.


Standing on the deck of the Polar Rover for the first time, watching a 700 lb. polar bear approach while sniffing the air to capture our scents, the utter silence of the Tundra struck me. These beautiful creatures, with their large, padded paws, move slowly, deliberately, and without announcement. They are, much like my black Labrador Hershel, incredibly curious. Mostly, they kept to themselves, but always made sure to at least give the air a good sniff whenever we came near.


Two guests savor the sight in silence. (c) Kendal Yoakum.

One of the most incredibly heart-warming moments my group and I shared was thanks to a mother polar bear and her two cubs. She caught the aroma of the food on board our rover, and cautiously walked over to investigate. The cubs followed closely, and waited patiently, their noses searching for smells. Mom’s powerful hind legs thrust her front paws up onto the rear of our vehicle. Once she decided she was no longer interested in our lunch, she and her family wandered several yards away. Together, they laid down to rest on the spongy orange moss that carpeted the landscape. In another moment, we were able to witness, from afar, the same mother and cubs nursing.   Every traveler lucky-enough to be there at that moment stood in silence, taking in the beauty of life unfolding before us.


Mother polar bear and her two cubs. (c) Kendal Yoakum.

Polar Bear Week

It’s heartbreaking to think that future generations may never get to experience the splendor Kendal witnessed that week. Now, more than ever, is the time to act in order to save the polar bear habitat.

In honor of International Polar Bear Day on Feb 27, WWF-Canada has dedicated this week, Polar Bear Week, to raising awareness for WWF’s Arctic on-ground work to ensure that Arctic habitats are conserved for all ice-dependent species. If you want to help make a difference for polar bears, follow a few of these tips:

  • Consider symbolically adopting a polar bear! Your symbolic adoption supports WWF’s global efforts to protect and their habitats.
  • Reduce your greenhouse gas emissions by following any of these green tips. These include practical tips such as moving your thermostat down just 2 degrees in winter and up 2 degrees in summer.
  • Raise awareness for polar bears in a number of ways, check out WWF’s How to Help page for more ideas on how to make the biggest difference.

And, if you book one of our polar bear tours by February 27–International Polar Bear Day–Nat Hab will make a symbolic polar bear adoption in your name! Call (800) 543-8917 or email to speak with an Adventure Specialist for more details.


(c) Kendal Yoakum


(c) Kendal Yoakum.