One of our first activities once we got to Cochrane was to visit the Polar Bear Habitat which I had been anticipating since I first found out we were moving to the town.
We got there about half an hour before feeding time – we wanted to make sure we had the chance to look around the gift shop and, more importantly, purchase annual passes so we can return as often as we’d like.
I can’t speak for my husband, but I’d like to return often.
Ganuk made his appearance precisely on time – I have a fine appreciation for punctuality (and for punctuation, but that’s not exactly relevant here). The keeper climbed above the building we were in and tossed half a watermelon into the water directly in front of the window. He seemed extremely hesitant to get wet, but once he hopped in the water, his love of watermelon became clear. He pushed it to the edge of the pool with his nose, then relaxed on the surrounding rocks while devouring all of the fruit. He was never more than 15 feet away from the window.
I was practically in paradise.
We thought it was over and we kind of stood around with stupid smiles on our faces (well, maybe that was just me), but then things got better. The keeper started tossing fish to him, too, and he ate those with almost as much enthusiasm.
In all, we got to watch him for about 45 minutes before feeding time was done, then he dawdled off.
Again, we thought everything was done, but then the keeper actually came down inside the building. At that point, we were the only people left, and she spent all kinds of time answering our questions. And I had a lot of questions. One of those questions seemed to embarrass my family, but I had no shame.
“I have to ask about his poop,” I told the keeper.
She looked dumbfounded for a second, then realized I was completely serious, and detailed the different textures and colours of Ganuk’s faeces, based entirely on what he eats. I was fascinated. I asked about size and shape, and she seemed eager to provide me with the answers.
And then, a truly magical moment.
“Do you want me to take some pictures and e-mail them to you?”
I didn’t hesitate. I ripped an old receipt out of my purse and scratched down my e-mail address. I handed it over and thanked her profusely.
Well, it had been a week and I hadn’t heard anything. I wondered if she had lost the receipt, or worse, had been feigning enthusiasm about the poop only to mock me later and use my e-mail address for nefarious purposes.
She came through today.
“I’ve been working at the Habitat for six years now and it’s the first time I have been asked that question,” she said. “I will never forget that day.”
She sent along a total of six photos – four of Ganuk’s poop, and two special surprises.
“I also attached two pictures I took of wild black bear poop I found last week while in the bush. I didn’t know if you had seen some before, but I thought I would capture the moment in case you haven’t. As soon as I saw them I was like, ‘Must take picture for girl that loves poop!’ Hahaha let’s just say I’m still laughing at your question.”
She told me about how sometimes Ganuk poops nicely on the floor, and sometimes it “splatters everywhere.” She also detailed his current diet and offered to continue sending me photos.
I am so happy that I’m not even questioning my own sanity.