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Life in the Snow: Gordon Buchanan gets up close and personal with polar bears

Want adorable photos of animals that revel in the freezing cold conditions of the Arctic? You've come to the right place...

Published: Thursday, 29th December 2016 at 8:00 am

Everyone loves a polar bear, but you’ve been closer than most of us...


They’re such majestic creatures and they’re perfectly evolved for cold weather. Under their skin they have up to 11cm of fat – that’s four inches – which is a brilliant layer of insulation. In fact, they often roll around in the snow to cool down.

You spent weeks on Arctic Live. What’s the worst thing about filming in the cold?

The cold! It’s very hard to get warm once you are cold. My mission is to venture out when I’m warm and try to stay warm for the rest of the day.

How to spot a polar bear

What’s the coldest you’ve been?

Weirdly, the closest I’ve got to hypothermia was after falling asleep on a bridge in late summer in Weymouth. I was on a night-time shoot waiting to film the arrival of autumn and, though it was chilly, I thought I could get a bit of sleep. I woke up and was shaking uncontrollably. So, there, my near-death experience was in Weymouth!

When you’re at home in Glasgow, what do you miss about the natural world?

Actually, I’ve got very used to enjoying what’s on my doorstep. It’s 24 minutes from my front door to Loch Lomond, where I’ve got a little boat. And I’m as happy sailing around the islands of the loch with the kids [Lola, 13, and Harris, 11] as I am sailing down the rivers of Papua New Guinea.

What are your hopes for 2017?

Whatever Donald Trump’s dream for America is, I hope that dream doesn’t become a nightmare for the natural world. In terms of climate change policies, Trump needs to think not as an American, not for America, but as a world leader. That’s a sentence I didn’t ever think I’d say.

Life in the Snow is on Thursday 29 December (8pm, BBC1) and Life in Polar Bear Town with Gordon Buchanan is on Saturday 31 December (6.15pm, BBC2)


Click through to see more photos of Arctic animals from penguins to reindeer...


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