My first visit to Flocke: Part 1 – Arrival

Aug 25th, 2020 | By | Category: Ralph's reports

25.8.2020 by Ralph Morton

The British Airways Airbus descended over the countryside of Southern France. It looked very different from England. We were soon over the coast. My first glimpse of the Mediterranean.

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An island passed below surrounded by boats. The relief at being able to travel made me carry on filming on my little phone.

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BN (my travelling companion ‘Bear with No Name) was looking down at all the yachts. The city itself appeared and then the port. BN was excited and wondered if Uncle Sergej had arrived.

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“That big one could be Uncle Sergej’s”. BN popped up again as we began our approach.

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The Airbus touched down on the runway and sped along. The mountains surrounding Nice could be seen.

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An executive jet appeared, and then a bigger one. BN wondered if Raspi was visiting Flocke. As we taxied toward the terminal BN noticed the blue tail of a Lufthansa plane. Perhaps other people were coming to see Flocke.

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Then we arrived at the terminal.

I was nervous, wondering if M. Macron had decided to make us quarantine for 14 days. No. We were asked to give our address in UK and in Antibes and contact phone. The passport control was quick and friendly (unlike at Tegel!). I was able to find the taxi rank. A taxi driver told me how much it would cost to get to the Marineland Park. It was not cheap but it would get me there with plenty of time to visit Flocke. Harry, my driver, got us there in very good time.

I was able to get my online booking turned into a pass card at the reception and made my way through the park to the “Ours Blancs”. The Polar Bears are the furthest away from the main entrance.

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The Polar Bears have three separate enclosures, which can be left open for them to move freely between them, or locked down separately. I reached the first enclosure and saw my first cub.

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After 8 months the cubs have all features of adult Polars and are no longer the cute bundles of fur seen in April (I would have seen them – sigh). But they are much easier to photograph as they swim a lot and like to play with visitors.

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The first of the two enclosures upstairs has a terrain area and a glass fronted pool where visitors can really meet the bears.

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The first day (Monday 17 August) was so exciting that I did not get so many photos as later on. In particular, Flocke spends much of her time in the doorways to dens behind the enclosure. She is harder to catch on the phonecam. But she will appear in my later reports. She is very lucky as the three cubs are always busy and do not pester her for milk. The keeper told me later that they get so much solid food that Flocke only has to feed them now and again.

The three cubs, two boys and a girl, play separately and together. The water is always the best place to meet them.

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The girl is the smallest cub but is the most curious and keenest to play at the glass with visitors.

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My shopping bag was soon in action. It is difficult to film and play at the same time. Fortunately later on you will see other people playing with the cubs.

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There is a lot more to come, three whole days worth. But I wanted to give you a feel for how exciting it was.

The three cubs are quite difficult to tell apart. These pictures appeared in KWM. The smallest, Tala, is the girl. Confusingly she has the nickname Tina, which the keepers use, and is short for Rasputina, as Raspi calls her. Tala and I spent a lot of time together, reminding me of Nuka and Qillak.

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Indiana was the most active and biggest of the cubs from the beginning. Hence Indiana Jones. Yuma and Indiana now seem almost the same size.

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  1. Lieber Ralph,
    dein Bericht wurde von mir sehnlichst erwartet und es ist schön alles mit anderen Augen zu sehen.
    Heute kam die Reisewarnung für Südfrankreich und ich werde deshalb dieses Jahr leider nicht mehr zu
    Flocke kommen.
    Tala – Tina, das ist einen kleine Rasputina, hat genauso viel Pfeffer und Temperament wie ihr Vater.
    Yuma ist das Mamakind und Indi der größte…. die Namen geben schon Sinn.
    Danke dir für deinen ersten Bericht und freue mich auf mehr und auch meine geliebte Flocke zu sehen.
    Liebe Grüße Moni K

  2. Dear Ralph,
    you had a wonderful trip to Antibes. It is great to see Flocke and her 3 kids. The pictures at the glass are wonderful.
    Hugs
    Ludmila

  3. Dear Ralph,

    Once again it was the greatest pleasure for me to publish your report – and I’m glad knowing there’s more to come! 🙂

    I like the way you take us with you from the beginning. The photos taken in the plane give us a good idea how it looked ‘under the clouds’.

    The polar bears’ enclosure in the Marineland is very nice with lots of variation. For the visitors the pool with the glass must be a paradise!

    I can imagine how you felt when you saw the kids for the first time. Although they have grown a lot they are still cute cubbies.

    Your shopping bag game seems to be a success even here! 😀 Well, polar bears are curious …. 🙂

    I like the names of the kids but why didn’t the call Tala for Rasputina in the first place? 🙂

    Thank you so much for the entertainment! I’m looking forward to the next parts.

    Hugs from Mervi

  4. Lieber Ralph

    Es ist super, dass Du Flocke und ihre 3 Kids besucht hast.
    Ich freue mich auf Deine Bilder und Deine Texte.

    Die Bilder an der Scheibe sind toll. Es ist bestimmt ein Erlebnis, so nah an die Bären heranzukommen.

    Hugs,
    Anita

  5. Dear Ralph,
    Thank you for taking us along on your magical trip to Marineland. I wish so much that I could go too. Having three cubs to watch must be a thrill, and Flocke is such a good mother. I am looking forward to your coming reports about Flocke and her little ones, Indiana, Yuma and “Rasputina” Tala. So much fun.

    Molly

  6. Dear Ralph,

    Simply wonderful!!

    Thanks for taking us along!!

    Look forward to more!!

    xo k-j

  7. Lieber Ralph,

    du hast großes Glück gehabt mit deiner Reise vor ein paar Tagen, denn jetzt unterliegt der Süden Frankreichs schon wieder einer Reisesperre. Ich liebe ebenfalls deine Reisebrichte mit interesssanten Details über den Flug und Taxidrivers, die deinen Charme auch mögen!

    Dein erster Eindruck über das Bärentrio ist sehr vielversprechend und ich freue mich auf deine nächsten Beschreibungen. Taschen und Kinderhände schein an den Unterwasserscheiben eine große Attraktion für die Bärchen zu sein.

    Vielen Dank und liiebe Grüße
    Britta-Gudrun

  8. Dear Ralph, I know that you have been waiting a very long time to visit Flocke and her 3 cubs. But, you must agree, it was worth the waiting, isn’t it. OK, I agree, they are not sooo small any longer, but still small enough compared to adult ones. And when I visited Knut for the first time, he was already 14 months (!!!) but even still a cub.
    And like you were happy to finally see them all, I am happy to read your report and see the pics.
    I love the introduction and of course, BN is a VIB (very important bear) to bring us the first impressions. Even though the airplane was not your real choice to go to Antibes, it was the best decision.
    Cabs are seldom cheap, but in these circumstances a very good solution to get somewhere, isn’t it.
    Your first pic of the enclosures just show how big it is? I never realized that before. And frankly said, I was also a bit amazed that almost nobody of the visitors were wearing facial coverage (here in Belgium, it is now obliged but I must confess that I do not like it so much). It must be wonderful to see the cubs playing close to the glass shield and one can wonder who is entertaining who (humans the bears or vice versa?).
    Ah well, like patience is (not) our middle name, curiosity is for sure the cubs’ middle name (like all bears). And heaven knows what kind of goodies were in your bag?????
    Actually, I think that the name Tina is more appropriate for the little girl. After all, she is Raspi’s daughter, no?
    And now, you made me very curious to learn more about the other ones. Looking forward to Part II.

  9. Dear Ralph!
    You were lucky to be able to go to Antibes in times of f… Corona!
    Congratulation for having seen Flocke with her sensational three cubs.
    I really liked your travel report and the impressions of BN at the arrival on the airport.
    The photos at the pane are fabulous and your shopping bag was again quite successful in attracting the kids…
    Thank you for sharing this adventure with us!

    Hugs
    Anke

  10. Lieber Ralph!

    Vielen Dank fuer diese grossartigen Bilder von Flocke und ihren suessen Kleinen.

    Liebe Gruesse, Erika

  11. Dear Ralph – That’s a pretty good introduction into your France-adventure!

    It’s great that you will take us along in words and photographs.
    The beginning is already very promising!

    Thanks to you and in the same time also immedaitely to Mervi for everything –
    as I am aware how much work and how time-consuming it must be to edit
    everything you will tell and show peu-à-peu.

    Looking forward to discovering continuation/s now and then . . . .

  12. dear Ralph,
    I am glad you could visit Flocke and her cubs, I like your nice report with the great pictures also from the airport and watching the yachts in the port, I can understand that BN was excited. The cubs are bigger now but for us they are the sweet babies of Flocke. They have a good home and the visitors love them.Thank you for the first part.It was a wonderful entertainment for me.
    dear greetings and paw waves to you and BN
    Filomena

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