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Polar Bear Jail

Way up in the Tundra in Canada is a small town called Churchill, Manitoba. With a population of around 800 people, it's hard to believe this little town could be at the top of many people's bucket list. But visit in the fall and you'll see why: the polar bear migration.

Polar bears migrate through Churchill every fall. They wander lazily down the streets towards Hudson Bay, which they go out on when it freezes to hunt.

There are no roads to Churchill. To get there you either must fly Calm Air or travel on the VIA Rail train. Most of my family and I took the two day train trip, while my brother and sister-in-law opted for the faster flight from Winnipeg.

Churchill is also home to what must be the only polar bear jail in the world. When bears spend too much time in the town, loitering around, stealing garbage or taking nibbles on people, they are tranquilized and put in jail. They detox from people then are flown out in to the middle of nowhere, so they can continue their journey.

While we were on our polar bear tour we managed to have the best luck ever. We saw a momma bear and two babies being flown out of the jail! They loaded the tranquilized bears up in the helicopter then flew them out away from the town so they could continue their natural migration.

The mom bear was so huge! It took a four-wheeler and three grown men to get mom off on the net. The babies were so cute and little. They were sedated but awake and they would pick their little heads up and look around. Once they were loaded in the back of the helicopter and mom was secured in the net, they took off and headed to the forest.

Seeing the bears outside of the zoo, especially the babies, was one of the coolest things I've ever seen. They are truly gorgeous, spectacular, and giant animals.


Profile photo of Patricia Bath

Travel nurse turned travel lover. Picky gastronome with a side of wino. J'adore photography and culture.If I had a superpower it would be to speak every language in the world, so I would never get lost looking for the bathroom.

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