Every year, from mid-February to mid-March, polar bears emerge from their dens for the first time with their four-month-old offspring in Canada’s Wapusk National Forest.
Sissy Gilardini, a professional wildlife photographer, decided to go go hunting for images of the Cubs’ first steps in 2014. Sissy stayed in the park for 13 days and waited in front of the cave for 117 hours while it was 122 degrees Fahrenheit (-50 degrees Celsius) outside.
Just thinking about that makes me shudder!
Gilardini’s photograph from the Wapusk National Forest in Manitoba has won her numerous international honors. “With the cold, photographing these polar bears can be tricky.”
“At those temperatures, your video camera will ice up, your batteries will die, and even when your electronic camera is working, you won’t be able to check your settings because small crystals form all over it,” she explained.
“However, when I was taking this image, I instantly screamed out that I had something special.” The mother was also very relaxed, and I sensed a lot of affection there… “Everyone can relate to that.” Photographing Canada’s polar bears, according to Gilardini, is a big honor.
“I am definitely honored by the recognition, but what is most important to me is this amazing opportunity to give a voice to animals who cannot speak for themselves, as well as raise awareness about environmental destruction and climate change through the power of a positive image,” she said.
“In order to drive people to action, we need to get to their hearts and sentiments.”
She also photographed bears and penguins.
Gilardini had a vast collection of stuffed animals and teddy bears as a child. “I grew up in Switzerland, where there were no bears, but I never questioned why I liked bears so much,” she explained.
“People frequently ask me if I’m terrified of bears since I spend so much time photographing them, but they actually calm me down.” She has never had a bad experience with one, she claims.
After moving to Vancouver five years ago, Gilardini began documenting spirit births in B.C.’s Great Bear Rainforest. “I am completely drawn to this complicated ecological community where everything is intertwined, and I am also extremely grateful to be among the minority people who have been lucky to see and also picture it,” she added.
She claimed her guide nicknamed this sleeping bear “Mushroom” because it likes to get “high up on mushrooms,” she laughed.