Kingdom of the Polar Bears: The Bears of Summer

Veteran polar bear guide Dennis Compayre watches as a mother bear teaches her young cubs to hunt, and he discovers how they are struggling to adapt to a rapidly warming Arctic
Available on CBC Gem

Kingdom of the Polar Bears: The Bears of Summer

Nature of Things

Kingdom of the Polar Bears is a two-part documentary series from The Nature of Things, which tells the heartwarming tale of a mother polar bear as she introduces her two newborn cubs to their icy world for the first time. The high-stakes adventure gives an intimate look at the life of this extraordinary mother as she teaches her cubs to survive in one of nature’s most difficult, unforgiving and quickly changing climates.

In Episode 2, Dennis Compayre travels by snowmobile to witness the dangers a mother polar bear and her two cubs face as they journey to the sea ice to hunt. While the mother teaches her cubs the skills needed to survive, she must be vigilant to protect them from predators. When Compayre loses track of the family, he continues his search by air and witnesses the rarely seen event of a mother polar bear teaching her cubs to hunt seals.

Summer arrives, and Compayre waits on shore for the bears to return from the ice. During an unexpected storm, the mother polar bear makes a hazardous swim to shore with her cubs, struggling to stay afloat in the treacherous waters. Compayre meets with Robert Rockwell, a population biologist and ecologist from the Hudson Bay Project, who explains that shorter hunting seasons and less seal meat are pushing the bears to find new food sources.

Compayre also finds surprising signs polar bears are now hunting beluga whales, providing insight into the remarkable adjustments they are making to their diet.

At the end of his journey, he discovers other clues that show polar bears are adapting to the changes in their environment, but wonders how they can possibly shift quickly enough to survive the rapidly warming Arctic.

Four years in the making, Kingdom of the Polar Bears includes rarely seen wild polar bear hunting behaviour and reveals new science indicating that polar bears may be adapting to climate change.

Kingdom of the Polar Bears gives viewers a ringside seat to the secret world of a mother bear and her cubs as they face the many challenges of their changing world.