Kingdom of the Polar Bears: Trek of the Bears

Veteran polar bear guide Dennis Compayre goes on a remarkable journey, providing a rare and intimate glimpse into the world of a polar bear mom and her newborn cubs as they leave the safety of their den for the first time
Available on CBC Gem

Kingdom of the Polar Bears: Trek of the Bears

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.

Leading this remarkable journey is veteran polar bear guide Dennis Compayre. Compayre has lived his entire life among polar bears, and on the precipice of retirement, his last mission is to follow the bear family to see first-hand how polar bears are surviving.

The winter hunting and spring birthing season is a critical time. It’s considered dangerous for humans to observe them during this period, and it has been largely undocumented until now. At a time when most bears are heading out on the fresh sea ice of Hudson Bay, Compayre tracks a pregnant bear as she travels 80 kilometres inland to ancestral birthing dens. There, she’ll remain for as long as four months without food or water, giving birth to the next generation.

Compayre battles -40 C weather and uses an infrared camera alongside personal experience to find the location of the mother’s den. In freezing temperatures, he waits patiently for the moment the newborn cubs poke their heads out of the den to experience the world for the first time. Compayre watches as the polar bear mom prepares her cubs for the perilous trek back to Hudson Bay and across the sea ice to hunt seals, teaching them how to survive in a world of dangers.

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.