I've had a "bucket list" for bears since I was a child. My trifecta includes the polar bear, koala, and giant panda and the list requires that I see them in their natural habitat, not just a zoo. I also wanted to see them in a way that was as eco-friendly as possible. The older I get, the logistics of that become more and more challenging.
In early 2016, I started volunteering for Explore.org as a web cam operator. One of my regular shifts was for the cameras watching Akiak, Sura, Huggies and Freedom - the four polar bears at the Ouwehand Dierenpark in Rhenen, the Netherlands. The shift also included limited time with the polar bears at Scandinavian Wildlife Park in Kolind, Denmark. It was a lot of fun but I was still far removed from being with the bears, in the wild.
I had been researching the best eco-tourism trips for Churchill Manitoba for years. I decided on Churchill since it had the highest likelihood for seeing wildlife combined with the least air travel. In the Fall of 2016, I got the trip of a lifetime by going with the Great Bear Foundation.
You can read more about my actual trip to Churchill here, at my glass site, www.beachgirlglass.com
Fast forward to 2017 and, although koalas and pandas are still on my life bucket list, I feel a different calling - to raise enough money and awareness to provide support to the communities and researchers that are trying to keep the remaining 25,000 polar bears alive and wild in their arctic habitat.
Stay tuned as I go on this journey.