Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Don’t Feed the Bears

If you’ve ever visited a zoo or a state park, you’ve probably heard these words: “Don’t feed the bears.” However one adventurous Norwegian, named Ragnar Thorseth, threw caution to the wind and fed open-faced salmon and mayonnaise sandwiches to a polar bear—by hand. This amazing feat, filmed during a family sailing trip in Svalbard in 1987, has just become available online. Check out Thorseth’s run-in with one of Svalbard’s polar bears below.

So who is this gutsy Norwegian? Ragnar Thorseth is best known for his adventuring spirit. Often called “The Last Viking,” Thorseth completed several notable sailing expeditions, retracing the paths of both Leif Eriksson and Roald Amundsen. All the more incredible is that Thorseth set out on many of his famed journeys in replica Viking ships. Completing a 2-year trip around the world in “Saga Siglar,” a Viking merchant ship, in 1986 and a 6-month expedition from Norway to New York as part of the “Vinland Revisited” expedition sponsored in part by the Norwegian and Icelandic government in 1991. In fact, our own Viking magazine chronicled Thorseth’s journey on “Gaia,” a replica of the famous “Gokstad” ship, in the August and October 1991 issues. Thorseth also has the distinction of being the first Norwegian to reach the North Pole by land.

Despite setbacks from a serious horseback riding accident in 2000, Thorseth welcomes his newest adventures as a grandfather, hobby fisherman and golfer. He has also continued to produce films, including a recent NRK documentary with photographer and friend, Trygve Berge.

If you’d like to learn more about Ragnar Thorseth or the “Vinland Revisited” journey on “Gaia” visit You can also reserve “Viking Voyage,” a VHS film chronicling the journey, from our media lending library by calling 800-945-8851.

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