Churchill Polar Bears and Dogs Playing

Video of Polar Bears and Dogs Playing

 

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Despite their fearsome reputation as “Lords of the Arctic”, killing and eating everything in sight, polar bears have their kinder, gentler side.

A Churchill resident, Brian Ladoon, discovered an aspect of polar bear whimsy when bears began visiting his sled dogs, which are staked out on a lake shore outside of town. Ladoon is working to save the Canadian sled dog breed from extinction, raising and feeding them outdoors to ensure their ruggedness as working dogs in the Arctic.

He feeds them caribou and seal, irresistible morsels for polar bears too. So it was no surprise when bears began showing up to pick over the scraps left by the dogs. But what happened next confounded almost anyone who had ever lived and traveled in the Arctic, always needing to be wary of wandering polar bears.

Polar Bears and Dogs Playing?

One day a bear wandered across the frozen lake to one of Ladoon’s dogs. Instead of threatening the bear or barking, the dog wagged his tail, then dog and bear and touched noses. Another large bear wandered over to another nearby dog and they began to roughhouse like puppies.

Interspecies play is relatively rare, though not unknown. Dogs are well-known social animals, and, until relatively recently, polar bears were thought to be solitary, coming together in maturity only to mate. Anyone who has been to Churchill to view the polar bears can tell you of the playing and sparring that is commonly seen in the fall as the bears wait for Hudson Bay to freeze. But it’s astounding to see polar bears and dogs playing, their mutual rivalries and animosities parked, at least on a small frozen lake near Churchill.

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