The Clarkson family was treated to a rare surprise while driving down a highway in Canada’s Banff National Park. Cara Clarkson was traveling with her son and husband when they spotted and filmed two grizzly bears searching for food on the side of the road. While one had a traditional brown coat, the other had a coat of white fur.
“We’re talking polar bear white,” Clarkson told local media.
According to experts, the bear is not considered albino; the unusual coloring is the result of a recessive gene in the animal. While some bears are white, such as the polar bear and the Kermode bear, grizzly bears range in color from tan to dark brown. White grizzly bears are extremely rare.
The sighting and ensuing enthusiasm for the animal is worrisome for experts who believe photographers will come in droves to snap a picture of the animal. In an email to CBC News, conservation biologist Mike Gibeau explained, “These unusual looking animals get hunted ruthlessly by photographers, and so the less we talk about them, the better. Even now, I suspect there will be photographers from all over North America here in the coming weeks.”
Seth Cherry, wildlife ecologist with Parks Canada, hopes that the warming weather will lead the bear to higher elevation before visitors make their way to the park in search of it.