Picnic with polar bear for Norwegian adventurer

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The Independent Culture

After "Dances with Wolves" comes "Picnic with a Polar Bear": a spectacular video made public Wednesday showing a Norwegian adventurer sharing salmon sandwichs with the great white king of the Arctic.

"I gave him salmon sandwiches with mayonnaise," explained Ragnar Thorseth, as he was filmed feeding a young polar bear from the deck of the Havella, a ship initially built for ... polar bear hunting.

Shot more than 20 years ago during a visit in the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard, some 1,000 kilometres (620 miles) from the North Pole, the video was only made public Wednesday when a website dedicated to camping and outdoors life posted it at http://ut.no/artikkel/1.7448955#.

"One can gauge a polar bear as you can gauge people, wild animals or other situations: is it aggressive? Is it hungry? Does it want to hurt me?" explained Thorseth, who at the start of the video assured the rest of his crew that the bear "is not dangerous."

"It does not have any natural predators, so it does not feel afraid except perhaps the fear inspired by other polar bears," he added.

A protected species, the polar bear is seriously threatened by the shrinking of the northern polar cap induced by global warming.

According to the US Geological Survey, two-thirds of today's polar bear population of 20-25,000 risks disappearing by 2050.

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