Polar bears are one of the most iconic and well-loved species in the world. They can swim constantly for days at a time. As well as reaching speeds of up to 6 mph in the water, polar bears can swim for long distances and steadily for many hours to get from one piece of ice to another. Their large paws are specially adapted for swimming, which they’ll use to paddle through the water while holding their hind legs flat like a rudder. Polar bears are actually black, not white. It’s fur is translucent, and only appears white because it reflects visible light. Beneath all that thick fur, their skin is jet black.
Imagine being able to have a polar bear as a pet just like you have a dog. Imagine doing all kinds of things with the bear as you do with your dog. Ok, maybe your dog wouldn’t be able to swim in freezing cold weather and icy water, however the time you spend with them is nevertheless amusing. Well, a man also known as a grizzly man called Mark Dumas, 60, is the only man in the world that can swim with a polar bear. We can say that he is one of the rare lucky people in the world to have a polar bear as a faithful companion. The fearless polar bear handler from Abbotsford, British Columbia, regularly goes for a dip in his swimming pool with 16-year-old female polar bear Agee, and the pair enjoy a watery cuddle together.
Grizzly Man Mark and wife Dawn, 60, train the 60-stone (800lb) friendly polar bear – the world’s largest land predator – to star in high-budget TV adverts. Agee has also performed in movies like ‘Alaska’ in 1995 when she was just a few weeks old. With his incredibly intimate bond Grizzly Man Mark wrestles on the grass with Agee, kisses her, puts his head in the polar bear’s huge jaws, and even bear hugs her as she rears up on her hind legs to over seven feet.
Mark and Dawn have owned Agee since she was six weeks old and the now colossal bear lived in their home as a cub where she played with the family dogs and was bottle fed.
“If anyone else tried this they would end up as Agee’s dinner,” Mark says. “The only people in the whole world she likes are me and my wife. I have worked with bears in this way for over 40 years, so I can read Agee’s body language and know how to behave safely around her. But Agee is the boss and it’s her rules that count.”
Despite this, these majestic and awe-inspiring bears are under serious threat from climate change, which has left their sea ice habitat dwindling. Since 1972 WWF has worked hard to fight the challenges that polar bears are facing and secure them a safer future.