Seeing animals in the wild is always both a risk and a treat. You never know how they are going to act but you do see them in their natural habitat. Zoos on the other hand, seems to show animals that are not particularly happy and just not as big as the ones in the wild. Yes, some zoos are better than others but they are also suited more towards smaller animals in my opinion. The Polar Park in Bardu turned out to be the best day at a zoo ever. It is the world’s northernmost animal park and they have the largest areas for animals to free roam in. They have 12 enclosures on 114 acres, which is the worlds biggest area per animal ratio. They have wolves, moose (!) deer, lynx, bear and muskox. Yeah, not too sure why they have a muskox but ok.
We arrived on a beautifully sunny day to find only 2 other cars in the lot and no one inside the lodge. A very nice lady comes from the back and shows us all the paths that are open. There is still quite a bit of snow on the ground and some areas have not been plowed. We buy our tickets and off we went. Our first stop along the path was in front of a big cat, the Lynx.
In front of a Lynx relaxing behind the fence we saw a van that had stopped at the gate of entry. Visitors cannot go in the gates so it was interesting when the man in the van pulled out the biggest tripod I had ever seen! When asked about it he told us that he was going in to film the lynx. They are hard to find in Finland and he is filming a wildlife video about Finland…for National Geographic! It was very exciting to meet a photographer that has traveled the world to photograph wildlife. We enjoyed chatting with Alex and wished him well. He was there for a second day and was also hoping to film the wolves. We did see him later and it looked like he was getting some good shots. We will be looking out for his video!
While Alex was busy, we were walking onward towards the muskox and the deer. We did not see the deer but we did see a pair of Muskox. We later learned that the female had been brought here for the male and he took to her right away caring for here. They are now always together. So romantic!
So far we just passed one family and we appear to have the whole park to ourselves. Hopefully this will bring the animals closer.
We walk up the hill and notice some wolves sitting on top. You can actually pay $300 to go into the wolf area and visit with them. They are very friendly and tend to come right up to you. Would have enjoyed that but…wow. Expensive.
We take a few pics and walk on hoping to see a few bears in the bear area. They just came out of hibernation 2 weeks ago so we climb up a hill to the bear area and see…nothing. There is a lot of snow still on the ground so we see where others have walked on top. We bravely go on hoping we don’t sink. As we approach the cages, we see some brown spots on the snow-bears! One little one is romping around while the others seem to be happy in slumber. Later on we circled around the park again and we saw all the bears moving. Little did we know that the area we were standing on had two entrances where the bears were hanging out. We think that this is where they hibernated for the winter. They were fun to watch as they seemed to be a bit drunk and sluggish in their movements.
Walking back towards to wolves, we saw the NG guys set up in the wolf area. We enjoyed watching them film for a bit and we continued our walk down the hill towards the Moose. We had seen the backside of a moose on the way into the park so we did not expect to see them but we were wrong. 4 moose were at the feeding area. Their fence was a bit different and we were able to get a good clear view of them. I was taking a picture to my right when al of a sudden I hear these steps coming at me. This moose had managed to sneak up on me-he was right there! Scared me back a few feet. He was not a happy camper so I obliged by keeping back a bit. They ran away shortly afterwards.
We revisited the deer spot as they had shown up as well. There was a fawn and two others and Shawn was off to the side taking picks when one of the deer charged him. Payback! There is no gentleness in these animals. I do feel that the animals in the Polar Park are more wild than those animals who are in a regular zoo and I would return to this one if I had the chance.