Nature: Snow Bears

Air date: 11/28/2018

Nature: Snow Bears

Premieres Wednesday, November 28 at 8 p.m. (check local listings)
Streams Thursday, November 29 at pbs.org/nature and on PBS apps

Synopsis:

Set against the harsh backdrop of the Arctic, Nature: Snow Bears is a dramatized story based on the extraordinary adventures and life-changing journey of newborn polar bear cubs as they leave the safety of their den for the first time. Bravely led by their mother, the cubs must make the perilous 400-mile trek to the sea to feed. Encountering many dangers and adventures along the way — marauding male bears ready to kill, extreme weather, Arctic foxes, Walruses, Narwhal, snowdrifts and ice cracks — they undertake an epic survival challenge. These cubs are rarely seen in their natural habitat, and this is a unique glimpse into their world. Kate Winslet narrates.

 Long TV Listing:

Witness the incredible journey of newborn polar bear cubs as they leave the safety of their den for the first time. Bravely led by their mother, the cubs must make the perilous 400-mile Arctic trek to the sea to feed. Narrated by Kate Winslet.

Short TV Listing:

Witness the incredible journey of newborn polar bear cubs as they learn to survive in the Arctic.

 Running Time: 60 minutes

Featured Species:

  • Polar bear
  • Narwhal
  • Walrus
  • Ringed seal
  • Arctic fox
  • Fin whale
  • Glaucous gull
  • Ivory gull
  • Bearded seal

Noteworthy Facts:

  • After months of winter hibernation, the return of summer to the Arctic means that polar bears must make the 400-mile trek to the edge of the ice surrounding the North Pole. This area is abundant with seals, their favorite food. Timing for the journey is crucial – if they don’t leave the island in time, the sea ice will be gone, which means they could be marooned for the summer.
  • Adult bears can travel up to 50 miles a day, but for cubs even 10 miles is a struggle. At three months old they need six rest breaks a day Adult bears can also swim up to 60 miles nonstop, but not the cubs.
  • Arctic foxes get through the winter by scavenging for scraps and surviving on their food stores. They tend to eat the leftovers from a polar bear’s kills.
  • Polar bears can smell seals under three feet of snow. Hunting requires precise timing and experience – only about one in ten hunts is successful.
  • The North Pole is populated with diverse creatures such as narwhals, walruses, and seals. They migrate to the region during summer when fish are abundant.

Buzzworthy Moments:

  • Before the mother and her two cubs can begin their journey, two large males, searching for a mate, approach the family. Since males sometimes kill cubs so they can mate with the mother, the mother must defend herself. The two males fight for the mother’s attention, and during the distraction she slips away with her cubs.
  • Courting males will sometimes stalk females for many weeks; this family must escape from several more encounters throughout the trek. One tense scene shows a male pursuing them up a steep cliff. Near the summit, the family becomes trapped, but the mother wins the fight by pushing snow onto the male, causing him to slip and fall away.
  • The summer melt has arrived early – an increasing problem in recent years. With the sea-ice vanishing, the polar bear family’s chances of getting safely to their destination become slimmer. They must pass through one of the most dangerous parts of the journey – the glacial fjords. Thousands of tons of glacier create a wall of water around the sea ice, and the heat makes them increasingly unstable.
  • Bearded seals weigh around a quarter of a ton and are a prized catch for polar bears. The mother bear stealthily attempts to sneak up and catch the seal. Approaching without being spotted is crucial, and she is on high alert since previous hunting efforts have been thwarted by her cubs’ movements and loud noises.

Series Overview:

Nature is a voice for the natural world, bringing the wonders of wildlife and stories of conservation to millions of American viewers. Nature has won more than 700 honors from the television industry, the international wildlife film communities and environmental organizations, including 18 Emmys and three Peabody Awards.

Production Credits:

Nature is a production of THIRTEEN PRODUCTIONS LLC for WNET and PBS. For Nature, Fred Kaufman is Executive Producer. Bill Murphy is Series Producer and Janet Hess is Series Editor. Snow Bears is a John Downer Production for BBC, PBS and THIRTEEN PRODUCTIONS LLC. The documentary is produced and directed by Philip Dalton. John Downer and Lucinda Axelsson are Executive Producers and Tom McDonald is Commissioning Editor. Cinematography by Stephen J. Downer, Matthew Goodman, Michael W. Richards and Roie Galitz. Filmed with specialist camera devices by Geoffrey Bell and Huw Williams. Edited by Gary McMath. Music by Will Gregory. Narrated by Kate Winslet.

 Underwriters:

Support for this Nature program was made possible in part by the Arnhold Family in memory of Clarisse Arnhold, Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, the Kate W. Cassidy Foundation, the Lillian Goldman Charitable Trust, Kathy Chiao and Ken Hao, the Anderson Family Fund, the Filomen M. D’Agostino Foundation, Rosalind P. Walter, the Halmi Family in memory of Robert Halmi, Sr., Sandra Atlas Bass, the Sun Hill Family Foundation, by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and by the nation’s public television stations.

Websites:
pbs.org/nature
facebook.com/PBSNature
twitter.com/PBSNature
instagram.com/pbsnature
youtube.com/naturepbs

#NaturePBS

About WNET
WNET is America’s flagship PBS station and parent company of THIRTEEN and WLIW21, home to ALL ARTS.  WNET also operates NJTV, the statewide public media network in New Jersey. Through its broadcast channels, three cable services (THIRTEEN PBSKids, Create and World) and online streaming sites, WNET brings quality arts, education and public affairs programming to more than five million viewers each week. WNET produces and presents such acclaimed PBS series as Nature, Great Performances, American Masters, PBS NewsHour Weekend, the new nightly interview program Amanpour and Company and a range of documentaries, children’s programs, and local news and cultural offerings. WNET’s groundbreaking series for children and young adults include Get the Math, Oh Noah! and Cyberchase as well as Mission US, the award-winning interactive history experience. WNET highlights the tri-state’s unique issues and culture through NJTV News with Mary Alice Williams and MetroFocus, NYC-ARTS, Treasures of New York, Theater Close-Up, and WLIW Arts Beat. WNET creates online-only programming, including the award-winning series about gender identity, First Person. Through multi-platform initiatives Chasing the Dream: Poverty and Opportunity in America and Peril and Promise: The Challenge of Climate Change, WNET showcases the human stories around these issues and promising solutions.  The weekly program SciTech Now explores the nexus of new ideas in science and technology.  Through THIRTEEN Passport and WLIW Passport, station members can stream new and archival THIRTEEN, WLIW and PBS programming anytime, anywhere.

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Photos
For editorial use in North America only in conjunction with the direct publicity or promotion of NATURE. No other rights are granted. All rights reserved. Downloading this image constitutes agreement to these terms.

Cubs playing chase. Svalbard Islands. Credit: Roie Galitz / © John Downer Productions

Mother polar bear and her two cubs walking to camera. Svalbard Islands. Credit: Roie Galitz / © John Downer Productions

Mother polar bear nursing her two cubs. Svalbard Islands. Credit: Roie Galitz / © John Downer Productions

Polar bear cubs playing together. Svalbard Islands. Credit: Roie Galitz / © John Downer Productions

Mother polar bear with cubs close by her side. Svalbard Islands. Credit: Philip Dalton/Geoffrey Bell / © John Downer Productions

Two polar bear cubs aged four months walking to camera. Svalbard Islands. Credit: Roie Galitz / © John Downer Productions

Polar bear spy hopping in sea ice. Svalbard Islands. Credit: Matthew Goodman / © John Downer Productions

Swimming polar bear. Svalbard Islands. Credit: Matthew Goodman / © John Downer Productions

Mother polar bear and her two cubs huddled together. Svalbard Islands. Credit: Roie Galitz / © John Downer Productions