Mother Nature came through in a big way to help cap off an annual Newfoundland iceberg festival.
The icebergs and pack ice moved in, bringing with them a special visitor – a polar bear.
After people donned costumes for the polar bear dip Sunday morning in the community of Raleigh, a real polar bear came ashore that evening in nearby St. Lunaire-Griquet on Newfoundland’s Great Northern Peninsula.
Thresa Burden, who lives in the town, said the healthy-looking bear wandered curiously near some sheds along the shoreline, garnering an audience.
“It was creating quite the attraction, I must say,” said Burden, a tourism and development officer with the town of St. Anthony. “It’s an attractive piece to look at. It certainly piqued the curiosity of visitors and locals.”
Burden said the young bear was then seen swimming towards an opening to the Atlantic Ocean and has not been spotted today, so it’s assumed the animal hopped back on the pack ice to continue its journey.
She said it’s not unusual for a polar bear to come ashore in the community, but it was surprising to see one so late into spring.
“Polar bears arrive here every year,” said Burden, who is also a member of the iceberg festival committee. “But to see a bear in June is not common.”
She said the polar bear had been roaming directly across from her house, and its speedy departure from the community was not unwelcomed.
“They’re wild animals. As beautiful as they are, I would not want to get too close,” said Burden. “You don’t know if they’re hungry or not, and they’re curious animals.”