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Canada's Ambassador to U.S. praised polar bears' I.Q. at embassy's Arctic event

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Canada's Ambassador to the U.S. Gary Doer praised polar bears' intelligence at an embassy event promoting tourism to the Canadian Arctic, on International Polar Bear Day Feb. 27.

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"We conserve polar bears," noted Ambassador Doer, who sported a tie with little polar bears against a sky blue background.

Canada's ambassador was the former Premiere of Manitoba, where the town of Churchill is "Polar Bear Capital of the World". It has a "polar bear jail" (with air conditioning) to temporarily house the hapless white creatures who wander into Churchill.

Ambassador Doer explained that the polar bears who have been to that pokey are so smart that they've learned warning signs, and protect themselves.

"We go in helicopters to tranquilize them, so when they hear helicopters, they sit down -- because we tranquilize them in their butt," he informed guests. "They aren't stupid."

The ambassador joked, "I can't make this up. When I was in politics, I used to make up a lot." He stood near a window that framed the U.S. Capitol Building.

But the big bears' intelligence isn't so big that they avoid returning to the scene of the big house. Nary a worry, they're carefully transported back to the wild.

(Google Maps on Feb. 27 began transmitting images of polar bears in their natural habitat around Churchill.)

Back to the embassy: To help guests warm to the prospects of traveling from frigid Washington to northern Canada, they were served "Polar Vortex Martinis" -- and Arctic char, venison, pork bellies...

In the embassy's Arctic Room, The Great Canadian Travel Company, Ltd. (TGCTC) president Max Johnson told guests about his various expedition options for viewing not only polar bears, but also walruses, seals, whales, and narwhals with unicorn tusks.

Johnson's company offers "snowmobile safaris" and "Floe Edge Expeditions", venturing on native Inuit wooden sleds, qamutiq, pulled by snowmobiles, to the edge of ice floes. (Surely TGCTC will guarantee we'll not face Lilian Gish's ice floe fate in "Way Down East" if we go way up north.)

On a more serious note, some TGCTC tours include visiting an Inuit hamlet of about 750 people on the Arctic Circle.

TGCTC's Northern Lights Excursion in the Yukon and Aurora Escape in the Northwest Territories are especially popular with Japanese tourists because they "believe that children conceived under the Northern lights will have an extraordinary life," Johnson noted.

The Canadian Arctic certainly seems an extra-extraordinary place to visit for all nationalities.

And it's so timely, as global warming/climate change is one of the world's "hottest" issues, greatly threatening the polar bear population and other Arctic endangered species.

For more info: The Great Canadian Travel Company, Ltd., http://greatcanadiantravel.com, its Arctic tours, http://greatcanadiantravel.com/destinations/canada/arctic, 800-661-3830. Canada is the 2013-2015 chair of the eight-nation Arctic Council, and the U.S. in the next chair. Click here for National Wildlife Federation info and video about global warming's impact on polar bears.

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