It’s not every day you see US President Barack Obama sitting by a glacier in the Alaskan wilderness, chewing on a half-mangled salmon.
But that’s just what America’s Commander in Chief got up to earlier this month, in an encounter with the celebrity survivalist Bear Grylls.
The pair met in the great outdoors to film an episode of Grylls’ latest TV show Running Wild, in which the former SAS soldier takes celebrities on adventures in remote locations.
According to Alaska Dispatch News, the Obama episode was taped on September 1 at Exit Glacier near Seward, in Kenai Fjords National Park.
Barack Obama Excited To Meet “The Other Bear”
NBC has released two teaser video clips from the episode. The first begins with Obama disembarking from Marine One on the Seward airstrip – wearing his hiking shoes – and meeting Grylls on a rocky clearing by a stream.
Obama enthuses about being in the Alaskan wild.
“As President, I am inside what’s called ‘The Bubble’,” he explains, “and Secret Service makes sure that I’m always out of danger, which I very much appreciate, but it can be a little confining.
“This has got to be one of the best days of my presidency.” ~ US President Barack Obama
“Every once in a while if I do something a bit unexpected, the phrase we use is that “The Bear is loose”. So to be with Bear in the woods, it doesn’t get any better than that.
“This has got to be one of the best days of my presidency. First of all I’m not in the office, second of all I’m not wearing a suit.”
The following day Obama posted a selfie of himself and Grylls on Instagram, joking “glad this was the only Bear I met in the park”.
The Two Bears Highlighting Climate Change
Obama’s tour of Alaska aimed to shine a spotlight on climate change and included visits to people living in affected areas.
“I’ve got two daughters and I don’t want grandkids too soon, but eventually I hope to have some,” he told Grylls, “and I want to make sure that this is there for them, not just for us.”
In an official White House video, Obama says “climate change once seemed like a problem for future generations, but for most Americans, it’s already a reality — deeper droughts, longer wildfire seasons, some of our cities even flooding in high tide.”
He explains that in Alaska glaciers are melting, storm surges are endangering villages, species are at risk, hunting and fishing are being affected, and homes are sinking into the ground due to permafrost melt-off. During his trip, Obama posted Instagram photos of locals affected by the diminishing fish supplies and signs that indicate the receding size of the glacier.
Grylls agrees with the president’s concern, saying he and his crew “see the harsh reality of climate change” every day while they’re out filming in the great outdoors.
“A lot of it actually is quite shocking,” he says.
Bear Cooks Bush Tucker For The President
A Bear Grylls episode would not be complete without a snack foraged from the wild. In true form, Grylls is seen in the second teaser video preparing a salmon carcass for his guest’s morning tea.
Anticipating his meal, Obama says, “I’ve seen some of the things Bear eats, and it’s got to be something that doesn’t still have its legs and eyes on it,” he said.
Grylls pulls out of his bag a salmon found on the riverbank, already half-eaten.
“Don’t freak out too much, but this is half-eaten by a bear,” he says.
The survival expert then explains that bears often eat only the high-fat portions of a salmon, such as the eggs, brain and skin, and leave the rest behind.
A nervous-sounding President asks, “So, a bear has chewed on this sucker?”
“Yes,” Grylls replies, “but we’re going to cook it up.”
“Don’t Freak Out, But This Is Half-Eaten By A Bear”
Obama sounds satisfied; “I think a piece of salmon, that’ll work just fine,” he says. “It would’ve been nice if we’d had a cracker to go with it.
He tries a piece cooked on a mini-grill and deems it “tasty”, but adds, “Bear’s a mediocre cook”.
“The fact that we ate something recognisable was encouraging,” he says. “Now the fact that he told me this was a leftover fish from a bear, I don’t know if that was necessary. He could’ve just left that out.”
Bear Grylls And Barack Obama Pray Together
One of the final gestures in the famous pair’s expedition is a time of prayer.
While the moment doesn’t appear in the teaser videos, Grylls, who is an outspoken Christian, tweeted a photo on September 3 of himself and the President in prayer. The pair are pictured holding each other by the arm and bowing their heads as Bear prays for the President, with the cameraman shielding his camera from the sun’s glare.
The photo is accompanied by a Bible passage from 1 Corinthians 13: Love always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
'Love always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.' pic.twitter.com/r9Hxd1dKF9
— Bear Grylls (@BearGrylls) September 2, 2015