'Exceedingly Rare' White Grizzly Bear Caught on Camera

An "exceedingly rare" white grizzly has been spotted in Banff National Park, Canada.

The bear is known to wildlife officials but was sighted by a member of the public for the first time in spring, The Guardian reports.

Footage shared by The Rimrock Resort Hotel last month shows the ghost-like grizzly mooching around and munching on berries next to a brown companion.

I guess it’s safe to say, the bears are BACK! 🐻

Posted by The Rimrock Resort Hotel on Wednesday, April 29, 2020

The video was taken by Cara Clarkson, the director of operations at the Rimrock Resort Hotel, and quickly attracted the attention of the Canadian press. Clarkson was on a drive in Banff National Park to celebrate her son and husband's birthday when she came across the pair.

At first, she mistook the two animals for wolves: "And then, like, holy smokes, nope those are grizzly bears. And one of them is white," she said, CBC News reports.

"We're talking polar bear white," Clarkson added. "For us, it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity."

Blond grizzlies and pizzlies (grizzly-polar bear hybrid) can appear light. But white grizzlies such as this are are "exceedingly rare," carnivore specialist Mike Gibeau told reporters. Gibeau, who worked at Parks Canada before retirement, said the phenomenon is more commonly seen in black bears—who in their white form are known as Kermode or "spirit" bears.

"I have never in all my time working with grizzly bears—since the early 1980s—seen a white grizzly bear," Gibeau said, the St Albert Gazette reports. "I've seen a really, really blond grizzly, but never a white one."

Like the Kermode bear, the unusually white grizzly is likely to have developed this coloring as the result of a recessive gene.

white and brown grizzly
An "exceedingly rare" white grizzly was filmed in a Canadian national park this spring. Parks Canada

Wildlife management specialist Jon Stuart-Smith told reporters the bears in the footage are siblings. The pair are 3.5 years old and were first seen near the Trans-Canada Highway, alongside their mother, two springs ago. According to the St Albert Gazette, the two bears were seen again last year—this time without their mom.

While bears tend to strike out on their own when they reach a certain age, experts say siblings may stick together for a time. According to Bear Smart, a Canadian-based wildlife charity, a mother might leave her young after two, three and sometimes four years, but siblings may choose to stay together for longer.

As for the white grizzly in the video, Gibeau has expressed concern the publicity could cause the bear unwanted attention.

"These unusual looking animals get hunted ruthlessly by photographers, and so the less we talk about them, the better," Gibeau told CBC News. "Even now, I suspect there will be photographers from all over North America here in the coming weeks."

"Observing wildlife in their natural habitat is a privilege that comes with a responsibility to treat wildlife with the respect they deserve and need," a Canada Parks statement sent to Newsweek reads.

"Parks Canada would like to remind visitors that feeding wildlife is not allowed in any national park. If you see wildlife near the highway, do not stop. When visitors see wildlife in other areas they should consider not stopping or, if safe to stop, always stay in their vehicles and give the animal space."