© Kt Miller/Polar Bears International
1/31/2013 7:22:41 PM
Hanging out with Siku
At 5:30 a.m., I woke to the soothing voice of Stevie Nicks serenading me with Fleetwood Mac’s number one hit, Dreams, also known as my most favorite alarm clock ever. The rest of the house was dark and silent. I slid into my slippers and tiptoed to the kitchen. With a flick, the teakettle gurgled into motion, breaking the silence. I slid into one of the kitchen table chairs and fired up my computer. With a few clicks I was there, virtually connected to the Scandinavian Wildlife Park in Denmark. “Good morning, Siku!”
About two weeks ago, Polar Bears International took over operating the Siku cameras at the Scandinavian Wildlife Park. It has been fun to spend time with Siku, one of the best-known polar bears in the world, and a representative of climate change awareness on a global scale.
Siku’s mother Ilka gave birth to two more cubs on November 21, 2012. They are currently still in the den with her, but will be re-located to a large outdoor facility in April.
PBI first took on the polar bear camera operations in Churchill this fall. I arrived in Churchill expecting to work mostly on logistics. It turned out, though, that there was a lot of technical troubleshooting to be done. Not only is technology always changing at a rapid pace, but we were working in Churchill where resources and time are limited.
Each day of polar bear camera operations in Churchill had its own unique set of challenges. Sometimes it was simply getting the Internet to work. Sometimes it was following an active polar bear around for hours, other times it was managing multiple polar bears on multiple cameras, and the worst of all was when the wind was blowing so hard it seemed impossible to find a single bear amongst the vast white tundra!
With Siku it is much different. You never get out of bed in the morning and wonder if you will be able to find a bear. The most difficult part is keeping up with the little fella when he is playfully romping about.
This morning, soft bluegrass music could be heard coming from the kitchen. Slowly others in the house made their way in to have a cup of coffee or a bowl of oats. They looked at me, a bit puzzled, and wandered closer to peer over my shoulder. For a culture inundated with vivid flashy media, they were pleased to see a little polar bear playing on the screen in front of me. “Wow,” my friend Tony exclaimed as Siku threw a piece of ice into the air and then slid across the pond after it. “Look at that little guy, that’s amazing!”
I hope others have similar reactions, and are inspired to learn more about these incredible creatures. The polar bear cams are a tool that allows people, who might not have the opportunity to visit a bear in a zoo or the wild, to see a real polar bear. Hopefully this resource is enough to inspire action and create climate change awareness.
The next time you have your music playing on your computer while you’re cooking a meal, stretching after a workout, or reading on the couch, go to explore.org and join us. Watch Siku play, show your kids, tell your friends. Whether it’s five minutes or two hours, it’s a little inspiration to fire up your day. It is a nice reminder that we are all connected and as global citizens must all participate in addressing climate change. The future of polar bears, people, and all other living things depends on it.
In the words of my co-worker Melynda, “The time is now!!! No really… the time is now.”