Ugh. Is it still January? Not for much longer, but this frigid weather isn’t going away for a while. Here’s a heartwarming, almost unbelievable, scene that should defrost even the coldest and crankiest of viewers.
In the video filmed by veterinary nurse Brittany Semeniuk and another wildlife photographer last November in Manitoba, Canada, a wild adult polar bear approaches a chained-up sled dog.
“I had no idea what was going to happen,” Semeniuk told National Geographic. “I was worried for the dog.”
Surprisingly, her worry turned to wide-eyed wonder when the large bear began to sweetly play with the similarly fluffy, but much smaller, canine. In the clip, the polar bear begins to gently nudge the dog with its nose, then starts poking the pup with its paws. The dog seems to enjoy the bear’s advances, even rolling over, paws up in the air.
The incredible, and downright sweet, interaction lasts about 15 minutes. The bear eventually tires of its new acquaintance and wanders off, presumably to search for food. Although their play sesh might look a little rough, it appears so only because the bigger animal doesn’t seem to know its own strength. Meanwhile, the friendly dog must have the best sportsmanship of anyone on its dog sled team.
“When the bear left, the dog seemed to be totally fine,” said Semeniuk.
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While seemingly benign interactions between polar bears and dogs have been caught on camera before, the most recent example (until now), filmed in 2016, ended badly. The one night that the owner of the dogs didn’t put out food, the polar bear killed and ate his dog. That’s a clear warning to dog owners: Don’t try this at home with your pet and any species of local bear.
Both the above video and the 2016 incident took place in the same region, Churchill, Canada, known as the “world capitol of polar bears.”