Seeing a polar bear at a zoo is one thing, but seeing one just a few feet from where you are supposed to sleep is a whole different experience.
“The bears come right up to the lodge,” Bob O’Shaughnessy said. “It was quite exhilarating.”
O’Shaughnessy, 67, of Mystic recently returned from a trip to Churchill, Canada where he got to have a close encounter with polar bears.
The Town of Churchill in the northern province of Maintoba proudly proclaims itself the Polar Bear Capital of the World.
According to the town’s website prime polar bear season runs for six weeks beginning each October. Forty or more polar bears can be seen on any given day during those weeks.
O’Shaughnessy is a retired state trooper and said he has always loved bears and that his nickname on the police force was bear.
He spent four nights out on the tundra in what he described as a lodge on big wheels as part of a Natural Habitat Adventures tour with 23 other travelers.
“It was a diverse group of people, some photographers, it was nice to talk to the travelers and Natural Habitat did a wonderful job,” O’Shaughnessy said.
The organization partners with the World Wildlife Fund and has several expeditions around the world.
O’Shaughnessy who said he doesn’t like to hunt has also been on wildlife tours in Africa and has a couple of other trips planned.
“The bears wait for the ice to freeze,” O’Shaughnessy said on why they gather in Churchill.
“The ice caps melt earlier each year. It is was wonderful to see the bears in their natural habitat.