Photographer’s Hair-Raising Encounter With Polar Bear

By ABC News

Jan 7, 2013 6:24am

Wildlife photographer Gordon Buchanan’s close-up encounter with a polar bear in Arctic Norway resulted in some shocking video, and even Buchanan admits the stunt terrified him.

“It was a strange mixture of terror and comedy because it felt like, it just felt like a monumentally stupid thing to do. But it was incredible,” Buchanan told the BBC, speaking of the footage he shot for the network’s documentary series titled “The Polar Bear Family and Me.”

Buchanan recorded the encounter while safely encased inside a small transparent cage on the snow.  Cameras inside and out recorded the curious bear’s approach. The animal sniffs at the cage before it begins to paw and claw at it, and then push and shove.

The animal stands upright on its hind legs to further shake the pod. Standing 8 feet tall and weighing 1,000 pounds, the bear dwarfs the protective enclosure.

The encounter with the bear lasts for 40 minutes, during which Buchanan provides a running account of what’s happening.

“Being this close, I have an appreciation for what this animal is, it is one of the most powerful animals on the planet, one of the most intimidating animals on the planet, and one of the few animals that actually see us as food,” he says from inside the enclosure.

He called the encounter “one of the most terrifying things that I’ve ever done … .”

“The Polar Bear Family and Me,” a three-part documentary series, will begin 9:30 p.m. Jan. 7 on BBC Two.

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