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You Have To See This: BBC Camera Operator Risks It All To Capture Footage Of A Hungry Polar Bear
January 4, 2013
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If you needed any more proof that polar bears aren't those cute and cuddly things you see in TV commercials, this is it.

BBC wildlife cameraman Gordon Buchanan boldly goes where few, if any, have gone before - face to face with a massive and hungry Norwegian polar bear named Lyra, and lives to tell the tale.

Weighing in at a whopping 1,000 pounds (450 kgs) and standing more than 8 feet tall (2.4m), the bear spends upwards of 40 minutes trying to find a weak spot in Buchanan's protective 'perspex cage' - essentially a shark cage made for the tundra.

"It is the most difficult thing I have done and the scariest. I've not been terrified for 40 minutes before," said Buchanan.


The polar bear tests out the top of the perspex cage.

Rocking the enclosure back and forth almost like it's a toy, the bear picks up Buchanan's scent through a small opening in the cage door. You can actually hear the cameraman's heart pounding in the clip.

Buchanan explains that the glass and metal cage is "pretty much bombproof", but that there was a chance the freezing temperatures could make the glass brittle, which is code for 'potentially huge disaster'.

This clip gives a glimpse of Buchanan's amazing up-close encounter.

We're still not sure what's more amazing - the footage Buchanan managed to capture or the fact that he remains relatively composed throughout. It kind of makes you think getting pushed around on public transit isn't so bad after all.


See? Size does matter.

In an interview with BBC Breakfast, he confesses that the experience was "a strange mixture of terror and comedy, because it just felt like a monumentally stupid thing to do. But it was incredible."

A wildlife cameraman for some 20 years, Buchanan spent almost a year following Lyra and her two cubs, Miki and Luca, shooting footage for the series 'The Polar Bear Family and Me', which airs next week on BBC-Two.


Incredibly persistent, the bear was determined to get to Buchanan.


"Without a doubt she wanted me for lunch", said Buchanan.


Lyra and her cubs, Miki and Luca.

You can check out more photos and the full story here.


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