A Canadian family spotted an “exceedingly rare” white grizzly bear while walking in a national park.
On April 29, the Rimrock Resort Hotel in Banff shared a video that Cara Clarkson, the hotel’s director of operations, and her husband Tyler had taken while strolling in Banff National Park. The parents, along with their two sons, 3-year-old Beau and 6-month-old Jak, had noticed two grizzly bears searching for food along the Trans-Canada highway just three days earlier. One of the bears had typical brown fur while the other’s fur was all white.
“We were like, ‘Holy smokes. That is [a] full-on white grizzly bear,'” Cara told St. Albert Today. “We knew we were so lucky because white grizzly bears are unheard of.”
The mother, whose family was celebrating her sons’ recent birthdays, said that she and her husband initially thought that the bears were wolves from a distance. The large, heavy mammals had apparently just crossed the highway and were on the wrong side of the highway’s wildlife-exclusion fence when they were spotted.
“We got our less than a minute’s worth of wonder and then said, ‘Let’s leave them and went on our way,'” Cara told the publication, adding that she used the moment to teach her sons about “berries, and hibernation and how bears move.”
In a separate interview, grizzly bear expert Mike Gibeau told St. Albert Today that the presence of a white grizzly bear is “exceedingly rare.”
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“A white-color phase in black bears is seen more often than in grizzly bears,” he said. “I don’t know of a white grizzly bear.”
Gibeau, who saw the family’s footage, also noted that the white grizzly bear in question was not albino, as some would believe. While albino bears do not have any pigments in their skin and hair and often have pink eyes, this particular bear had a white fur as a result of a recessive gene, he said.
“I have never in all my time working with grizzly bears — since the early 1980s — seen a white grizzly bear,” he said. “I’ve seen a really, really blond grizzly, but never a white one.”
The family’s video has been a hit on Facebook, where it has received nearly 700 reactions and almost 200 comments.
“What an incredible sight!!” one person wrote. “Thank you for sharing.”
“Beautiful Spirit Bear!” another added. “What a privilege to see it! Now let’s all hope it stays safe from humans.”
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