The wildlife of northern America and Canada is much like its landscape – unique, untamed and beautiful. From the big bad wolf to the mighty moose, this is the home of iconic creatures from bedtime stories and nature documentaries the world over.
Join us on a tour here and see how many of these Great Eight beasts you can spot for yourself!
Reaching heights of up to 8ft tall when upright, grizzly bears are an impressive sight. But despite their size, they mainly get by on nuts and berries, with the odd rodent, moose and salmon thrown in when available. When the salmon are plentiful, each bear uses its own fishing technique, learnt as a cub from its mother and perfected as an adult with its long, razor-sharp claws and quick reflexes. Table manners are often forgotten.
There may not be any creature as beautiful, arresting or as universally respected throughout human culture as the wolf. Skilled hunters, they are also playful and highly sociable within their packs. Keep your eyes peeled around dusk if you want to catch a glimpse of these nocturnal animals - and don't be alarmed if you hear that archetypal howl. It's a wolf-to-wolf thing.
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To see a humpback whale throw its colossal bulk out of the water and crash back down again with a thunderous clap is a display of power that will leave you awestruck. Alaska offers plenty of chances to catch one of these impressive performances, especially memorable from the viewing platform of an intimate cruise ship that’s built to bring you closer to Alaska’s incredible sights.
The great north American cousin of the deer, you are more likely to hear the north American elk before you see it. Their high-pitched, whistling roars ring out across the landscape during rutting season (autumn), an eerie whale-like song. Stay focused and you’ll catch sight of their dark chestnut coats fleeting through the Canadian wilderness.
Spot elk on our tour of Glacier National Park and the Canadian Rockies.
Symbolic of the USA, the bald eagle in fact has a full head of white feathers – the word ‘bald’ is Old English for ‘white’. Found all over North USA and Canada, this fearsome predator can dive up to 99mph. But don’t worry, it’s pretty much pescatarian (mainly eats fish).
This shaggy-coated north American buffalo is ‘ecologically extinct’ as a wild species, with fewer than 5,000 wild pedigree bison roaming free. Of these, you’ll find around 4,000 in Yellowstone National Park, where they can spread out across 3,500sq m of prairies, canyons, rivers, forests and hot springs.
If they were ever in a survival competition, the bighorn sheep of the Rocky Mountains would leave our docile English breeds blinking lazily into the sun. With extremely sharp eyesight and long-range vision, an acute sense of smell and excellent hearing, American bighorn are built to survive the predators that live on the rugged terrain of the Rockies. Their climbing ability is down to one very clever evolutionary gain: their toes pinch, which means they can balance in seemingly impossible places.
The largest and mightiest of the deer family, the moose is known as a symbol of Canada. You’ll find them across the entire country, right from the eastern tip of Newfoundland up to Alaska. They get rather warm in the summer, so you might see them taking a dip in their nearest lake or river – they’re excellent swimmers.