PeiPei visited us from Taipei. Now back home she writes: “I feel fortunate to be able to volunteer at the Cochrane Polar Bear Habitat. The international volunteer experience surpassed my expectations and it was really one of the best. It gave us more of an opportunity to actually get closer to the bears’ daily life. Helping out with the process of food preparation and sleeping area/enclosure cleaning meant we got to know their diet and living habits. Also, exploring the real dens which were dug by the female bears when they were pregnant and which they actually did sleep in was awesome. During the volunteer program, we not only acquired knowledge about polar bears, saw the training process and the bear keeper-bear interaction, but also got to know the different communities as well as individual people who were all generous and kind. Finally, our coordinator made us feel so welcome and safe which I appreciate a lot. I definitely recommend the Cochrane Polar Bear Habitat international volunteer program to everyone and hope to come back one day!”
Judi from the United States writes: “Having been fascinated with polar bears for many years and using them as the subject of a lot of my art recently, the opportunity to be a part of the bear keeper experience has been epic! The dedication of everyone at the Polar Bear Habitat is inspirational. All the bear keepers are well educated, super smart and very friendly. Their love of the bears is undeniable. All the people of Cochrane I met were beyond kind…they were welcoming and gracious, generous and ever so thankful for all of the volunteers’ efforts and love of the polar bears.
“I took hundreds of photographs that I will be able to use as an invaluable resource. I hope to spread the word about conservation efforts and intend to work on fundraising for the Habitat with my art.
“There were amazing experiences that I had unique to the Habitat’s IVP…including polar bear food prep (filleting seal meat, cutting up moose meat and fish), creating enrichments for the bears, cleaning their rooms, testing the pool water and cleaning the pool filter of fur and other crud). I was even able to climb into an old winter den! Important tasks that the bear keepers are doing daily were fun to help with, lightening their load a bit (cleaning, mowing and interactions with the public). Everyone took the time to pause and enjoy moments with all of the polar bears, especially when they were being undeniably cute.
“Staying with host families made all of us feel very welcomed. The community is very family oriented.
“I cannot think of anything about this experience that wasn’t positive. I would highly recommend the IVP to anyone who is interested in helping polar bears survive climate change or just want a hands on (except no hands are actually on the bears, as much as we all would just love to cuddle with them or scratch behind their ears) experience and don’t mind getting down and dirty. The research and efforts of the Habitat are invaluable. Now when I watch the ‘bear cam’ from the Habitat’s web-site it all feels so much more special to have been there and helped!”