A Calgary family was heading home after a mountain trip when they came upon an extraordinary incident. Julia Turner Butterwick, a mother of two, captured a very rare white-headed grizzly cub while travelling back from Banff National Park with her family.
After noticing a mother bear with her two children and observing that one of the cubs had a very unusual head color, the woman decided to capture a drive-by photo of them. “Oh, I’m just going to take pics out the window,” Julia replied, “and then as we drove by, I observed, ‘That cub has a white head.'” ” It took me by surprise. It’s the first time I’ve ever seen something like this. “That teeny-tiny fellow is one-of-a-kind.”
Officials at Banff Park verified that the youngster is a grizzly bear, but said they had never seen anything like it before. Jeff Gailus, a grizzly bear expert, told Global News that he’d never seen anything like that. “I’ve never even seen a picture of one!”
Officials feel that too many visitors may endanger the bear cub, thus the location of the animal has been kept a secret. They also advised Julia to keep the location of the rare animal hidden from the general public.
The woman told CBC News, “I had no idea that was so unusual.” “I thought, hey, that’s different; perhaps this would spark people’s interest.” But if I’d understood how unique that was, I would have immediately notified Banff Parks. They [park authorities] asked for further details about where we saw it, what side of the road we were on, and other details, and they said they’d go out and put some measures in place to protect them.”
Julia had no idea how amazing the cub was until her 4-year-old son pointed it out. “Ecstatic,” said the woman’s four-year-old son. My kid observed a panda-like creature as we drew closer.
The white head of a grizzly bear is thought to be the result of a rare recessive trait, but it’s still a mystery. In order for him to succeed, this gene must be present in both of his parents. “The gene might be present but not shown in the parent bears and siblings or other relatives,” says biologist and wildlife specialist Paul Pauquet.