‘How do polar bears handle a heat wave?’: Ont.’s polar bear habit shows CTV News

The recent heat wave across Ontario and much of Canada and the U.S. has had people looking for ways to ‘beat the heat,’ so how have northeastern Ont.’s three resident polar bears handled the recent warm weather?

Staff at the Cochrane Polar Bear Habitat told CTV News that Ganuk, Inukshuk and Henry handled the weather quite well.

Two of three polar bears at the Cochrane Polar Bear Habitat beating the summer heat. (Cochrane Polar Bear Habitat/Facebook)While summer may not be a polar bear’s favourite time of year and even the hot spell has not stopped the habitat’s three residents from enjoying the sanctuary – they are taking to their pools and the shade which is giving visitors a bit of a show.

“These bears are well acclimated to it,” said Kearin Goff, the animal care leader at the habitat.

“We also give them lots of freezies – they get moose blood freezies, frozen watermelons. They have pool access all the time and a big lake to swim in that is spring-fed and stays nice and cold.”

Officials with the sanctuary said the elevated smoke levels from the wildfires this season does not seem to bother the bears either.

Animal care staff said they are always looking out for changes in the three’s behaviour and how their personalities evolve over time – the bears are a bit sleepier, stick a bit closer to the shade and don’t mind a few extra dips in the pool this summer but not much else has changed.

“Just this year, Inukshuk decided he doesn’t like watermelon rind anymore,” said Goff.

“Watermelon is all three of their favourite foods in the summertime but Inukshuk has decided he won’t eat the rind anymore, so we’ve had to start cutting it off for him.”

The centre is looking forward to a busy tourism season this summer with all programming up and running, renovations to its Heritage Village underway and the Nanuk Snack Shack open for the first time since the pandemic.

“We’re starting to get busier with our families coming in. Lots of memberships we’re selling, at the moment, so, yeah it’s a fun time of year to be here,” said Amy Baxendell-Young, the manager of the Cochrane Polar Bear Habitat.

“Our kids pool is open, right now, so that means that people can come in, have a swim in the kids pool and maybe the bears might even come and join them too.”

The Heritage Village will be hosting a Heritage Days Festival on July 29 & 30 featuring the second annual Cochrane Western Gaming Show and barrel racing with the hopes of keeping guests entertained while they catch a glimpse of polar bears Ganuk, Inukshuk and Henry this summer.

For more information on the habitat and its activities, visit their Facebook page.

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