Watch out for polar bear in the air

Nobody likes a grizzly plane passenger but this particular two-year-old shouldn’t be too hard to bear.


Then again Henry is no ordinary youngster, given he sleeps in a crate instead of a crib and tips the scales at 280kg.

The Sea World polar bear is preparing to fly the coop to join a conservation and breeding program in Canada.

Henry will board a Royal Australian Air Force C-130J Hercules on Tuesday to fly from the Gold Coast to Sydney.

It’s the first leg of his journey to the Cochrane Polar Bear Habitat, where he’ll play a major role in the international polar bear conservation and breeding program.

RAAF personnel met their special cargo on Monday to prepare for the unusual transfer.

“I’ve flown thousands of passengers, but Henry will certainly be the most interesting passenger I have ever flown,” Flight Lieutenant Conan Brett said.

Sea World director of marine sciences Trevor Long said Henry was going to be sent down to Sydney in a refrigerated truck before the RAAF came to the rescue.

Mr Long is confident Henry will be a good flyer.

“Polar bears travel very well; they get quite stimulated by different scenes and different smells,” he told AAP.

Henry has also spent the past three months becoming familiar with the crate that will transport him to the polar bear habitat.

It’s apt Henry – the first cub born in Australia in 30 years – is off to Canada, as his father Nelson was an orphaned bear rescued by the Quebec government.

He’s also ready to leave his mother Liya home at Sea World, having already been weaned.

Henry won’t breed until he’s eight or nine years old and, despite being more than 12,000kms away, will remain part of the Sea World family.

“We’re not selling Henry at all, in fact we retain ownership of Henry,” Mr Long said.

Research indicates there are only between 20,000 and 25,000 polar bears left in the wild.