Editor’s note: This article was published before the coronavirus pandemic, and may not reflect the current situation on the ground.

For photographer Susan Portnoy, the opportunity to shoot polar bears—with her camera, of course—was an experience not to be missed. And so, lens at the ready, she ventured into Manitoba’s Hudson Bay.

My fingers have gone numb. Again.

I pull my mittens over my gloves and wait for the familiar prickly sensation that means my digits have started to thaw. At minus 34 degrees Celsius—and that’s without wind chill—the metal on my camera has become an adversary, and I can’t photograph too long without a break.

Radio Bear however, sporting heavy fur and several inches of fat, is content to lie on the ice. Tucking her nose into the bend of her elbow, she curls herself into a fetal position and closes her eyes. She may be the world’s largest land carnivore, but she looks more like a slumbering house cat than a polar bear.