A family from Calgary was heading back home after a trip to the mountains, when witnessed a unique sight. Julia Turner Butterwick – a mother of two, was with her family on their way back home from Banff National Park, when she accidentally caught on camera an extremely rare white-headed grizzly cub
The woman spotted a mother bear with her two cubs. She decided to take a drive-by photo of them, when realizing one of the cubs has a very unique head color.
“I said ‘Oh, I’m just going to snap a picture out the window and then we drove by. We didn’t want to pull over and stop and disturb them. But as we drove by, I realized this cub had a totally white head and it caught me by surprise,” Butterwick said. “I had never seen anything like it.”
The Banff park officials confirmed the cub is indeed a grizzly bear. But they admit they’ve never seen anything like it, before. “I’ve never seen anything like it,”Jeff Gailus, a grizzly bear expert told Global News. “Nor have I seen a picture of one!”
The exact location where the unique bear cub was spotted remains secret as the park officials fear that too many visitors could endanger the cub. They also asked Julia to not reveal the location she spotted the rare animal.
“I didn’t realize it was that rare,” the woman told CBC News. “I thought, oh that’s unusual, people might be interested in this. But if I’d realized how rare it was I would have called Banff Parks right away. The park officials asked me for some more information on where we saw it, and what side of the road and that kind of thing. And they said that they were going to go out and put some measures in place to protect them. ”
Julia said she initially did not realized the cub was so special until her 4-year-old son brought her attention. “My four year old was really excited,” the woman said. “As we got closer … my son said, ‘It looks like a panda!’”
“I feel very privileged to have seen this unique sighting and I wanted to share the picture because I think people will only respect wildlife if they love it and appreciate it,” she said. “But I hope it doesn’t encourage people to go out searching for it and disturbing it.”
Even the bear’s extremely rare looking still remains a mystery, grizzly bear experts said its white head is likely to be the result of an atypical recessive gene. Gene that has to be present in both his parents. “In theory, the gene could be present but not exhibited in the parent bears and sibling or other relatives,” Paul Pauquet, a wildlife expert and zoologist told Global News.