A Ranger in the Canadian Rockies says video she captured was ‘something everybody needed’ in a time of isolation
On a bright spring day, a hulking grizzly bear named Boo emerged from his winter den, shaking a dusting of snow from his thick coat as he looked around groggily.
The moment was filmed in a remarkable viral video – which also captures the elated reaction of one of the bear’s closest humans, the manager of grizzly refuge in the Canadian Rockies.
“Mama’s so proud of you! You are such a good sight,” exclaims Nicole Gangnon, in a clip filmed on her mobile phone which has racked up more 100,000 views on Twitter – many by people desperate for a distraction
Gangnon had her own reason to be cheerful, she later explained: she had tried unsuccessfully for eight years to document the bear’s emergence from hibernation.
“We’ve always set up trail cameras and our surveillance cameras,” Gangnon told the Guardian. “And it just seems like every time he decides to dig out, our technology fails us and we can never capture that moment.”
Born in the wild, Boo now lives alone at the Grizzly Bear Refuge, a 20-acre enclosure on the property of the Kicking Horse ski resort in near the town of Golden.
After his mother was killed by poachers nearly in 2002, Boo arrived at the refuge with his brother Cari (the pair were named after the Cariboo Mountains where they were found).
Cari died from a twisted intestine during the pair’s first winter in the refuge, but Boo has thrived over the years, drawing thousands of tourists to his enclosure.
The log cabin den where Boo sleeps every winter – buried under two meters of snow – also doubles as makeshift laboratory and is designed to allow researchers to study bear hibernation.
On 17 March, Gangnon heard movement from the den and waited anxiously as Boo dug himself out.
“It’s just beautiful to see him face-to-face rather than on a camera. He’s so happy and that just makes your heart sing,” she said. “Once he gets up, you can see he’s got a grin on his face. He’s like: ‘Hello, world, here I am again.’”
“I was moved to tears that day. With the world so uncertain, it was something I needed. I think it was something everybody needed, to be honest,” said Gangnon. “It’s brought a lot of happiness into people’s world’s right now, when people are isolated. It’s really just helped people to see that the world will still go on.”
News from The Guardian