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The Life of a Baby Polar Bear – Ep. 4 | Wildlife: The Big Freeze

The Life of a Baby Polar Bear – Ep. 4 | Wildlife: The Big Freeze


– [Narrator] Before becoming the biggest land predator on the planet, polar bears are born small and helpless. They must then embark on an odyssey, to grow more than 100 times their weight. And learn everything they need to survive, before their mother abandons them at two and a half years old. Less than 50% will survive. I think our little bear
has got a problem here. Run, run, run. The Arctic is no place for cute. At first glance, the Arctic
feels brutally devoid of life. Though a select group of animals, have figured out a way to thrive. But the real force here
works quietly under foot. Every winter sea ice
starts small and delicate, then it grows over
millions of square miles. How is it possible that this freezer, holds the key to our entire planet? Like a lung, sea ice
breathes life into the Arctic every year. In a cycle that impacts the
climate, across the globe. This is the story from the
edge of the Canadian Arctic, where it all starts. My name’s Bertie Gregory and
I’m a National Geographic wildlife film-maker. Everything is at stake, we’re all waiting, for the big freeze. As winter slowly gives way to spring, on the edge of the Arctic, polar bear mothers,
break out of their dens. And get ready for a
treacherous, 40 mile, trek to hunt at sea. Finding them in this massive,
featureless landscape is nearly impossible,
unless, you’re this guy. Morris Spence’s been combing this area for more than forty years. Well it looks like Morris
is already onto something. It’s crazy what he can pick up on, looking at little marks in the ground, that I’d just drive right past. – They could be on the
edge of the lake like this, they could be anywhere. – I can’t quite believe, we’ve found this beautiful
female polar bear. I say “we found her”, I
had nothing to do with it. It was all down to our incredible, polar bear tracker, Morris. But most importantly, between
her legs, snuggled up, is a tiny, tiny little polar bear cub. And you can see it’s
so tightly snug in mum. And that’s really key, ’cause right now it doesn’t have a lot of body fat, that fur, isn’t that thick. So it’s really gotta’
rely on mum to keep warm. This cub might look small now, but with only a 60-day gestation period, polar bears are born
the size of a squirrel, and weigh less than two
pounds inside the den. So this little one has
been building his strength, in preparation for the big,
wild world, above ground. Just imagine, how exciting
everything must be for that little cub. I mean all it’s ever known,
is a dark little snow den, and then all of a sudden,
mum punches out a big hole and it’s got all these
new, smells, and sounds, and the blue sky and, and trees. (gentle laughter) – She puts up with quite a
bit when they have one cub because that’s all she got to play with. She has no little brother
or sister to pick on, but the mother. Polar bear litters in the
Hudson Bay, are getting smaller, as declining sea ice means females have less time to fatten up,
before entering their dens. So if this mother wants
her only cub to survive, she’ll need to ensure it
masters the important game, of recognizing which smells to trust, and which ones to run away from. See her taking big sniffs into the air, and I’m sure part of that is smelling us, checking out what we are. But, the biggest threat
to these cubs, are wolves. ‘Cause while she can, take
on one wolf no problem, the problem is the wolves, work as a pack, and work together, and can
separate the two of them. This mother faces a really tough decision. The more she waits, the stronger the cub will be for the trek, but the mother hasn’t had a
good meal in eight months, and if she waits too long,
her milk is going to dry up. And there they go, off on
their, 40-mile trek to the sea. That little, tiny polar
bear cub, has the next two, two and a half years to learn
everything it needs to know, from it’s mum, about
how to be a polar bear. Morris has found her day den. Pretty deep. She made this, right after breaking out of her hibernation den. It’s warm. To think what the actual den must be like. You know unfortunately it’s blown in, so we can’t get in it, but to be totally enclosed,
straight out of the elements. You know, this snow and ice
is such a good insulator, that is, one of the perfect
way to conserve your energy, over the winter while you’re
raising these little cubs. Here’s some fur. You know this is really
their secret weapon against the cold. So cool. After two and a half years
of being inseparable, polar bear cubs wake up to a hard truth, mum is gone. She’s got to start another breeding cycle. Well we’ve caught up with
this little bear and, now that it’s on it’s own, it’s in, the toughest year of it’s life. It’s lost the best bouncer
in the world, it’s mum, who would you know, back
it up through anything, and also hunt for it. And now, it’s got to do
everything for itself, so it’s got a really
tough time ahead of it. Little bear’s got to be
really, really resourceful. Don’t know what it’s got,
maybe some frozen berries or something under the snow, but it’s got it’s butt in the air, digging a little hole. It’s definitely eating something, you can see it’s, jaw chomping. It takes time to get used
to this solitary life. Lesson number one, never
let your guard down. Wait, what’s that smell? You’ve smelt this before. What is it? (wolves growling) (dramatic music) Wolves! I think our little bear’s
got a problem here. That bear’s gotta be
overheating, that coat, it’s it’s secret weapon, but
it’s gotta be a curse now. If it can just get to the water, that wolf is not going to follow. Run, run, run. Life is certainly not a
playground around here. But through baptism by fire, this little cub has learned
an invaluable lesson, and she’s one step closer,
to joining the ranks, of the biggest predators in the Arctic.

40 thoughts on “The Life of a Baby Polar Bear – Ep. 4 | Wildlife: The Big Freeze”

  1. Baby polar bears are left behind by their mothers at a young age, so they must be ready to handle any situation. What intrigues you the most about this ritual?

  2. Don't forget that cute little cub will eat you one day !
    And don't try to domesticate a cute cub because what's meant to be wild will find a way and fully grown, turn on you in a split second.

  3. Why and how has the quality of NGC gone down so bad…

    It's almost reduced to a silly commercial flick…

    Hope they put science and information ahead of glorification of self and needless…

  4. Mr. Bertie Gregory is so fun to watch!!!!! I usually don't register the words they say and just focus them on the film. His enthusiasm makes my attention span stronger.

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