New York was supposed to be the city dealing with a scary winter visitor on Tuesday, but instead it was London that was thrown off-kilter—by a giant polar bear wandering around.
The eight-foot male bear was first spotted in the Underground before walking across Hampstead Heath and along the South Bank. The beast drew quite the shocked reaction, with people posting all sorts of frightened and bemused notes to social media. They were happy to learn, in the end, that it was simply a very advanced fake bear—promoting Sky Atlantic's new TV crime drama Fortitude, which is set in a small Arctic town.
The bear was created by special effects company Millennium FX and operated by puppeteers Tom Wilton and Derek Arnold, who worked on the theater production War Horse. The stunt was orchestrated by Taylor Herring, which has a history of doing fun outdoor stuff like this—including the brilliant beached dragon head skull for Game of Thrones in 2013.
"It is made of a semi-rigid foam, as it had to be light," Millennium FX principal Rob Mayor said of the bear. "The head was difficult, too, as we wanted the hair to look right. So each hair was put into place individually. Then we used an electrostatic current to make the hairs stand up on end. … We are actually going to miss the bear when it's gone. It sounds silly, but we have got quite attached to it."
Here in the U.S., Fortitude will premiere this Thursday at 10 p.m. ET/PT on Pivot.
This isn't the first polar bear spotted in London, though the last one was homeless because of climate change in an ad from Greenpeace. Check out another photo of today's bear below.