Our Tour Naturalist - Les Stegenga
Les began his career in wildlife biology after graduating from Trent University with a BSc. in 1979. His first job took him to Churchill, Manitoba working as a polar bear researcher. During his time there he witnessed the beginnings of polar bear tourism and the start of a new understanding in how we view this iconic creature.
Les moved from the Arctic to western Canada where for 8 years he researched the impact of oil and gas exploration on grizzly bear behavior, plus fieldwork on seasonal feeding patterns among black bears in the eastern slopes of the Rockies. His work also included studies on moose, bighorn sheep and cougars.
In 1988 Les joined the Calgary Zoo and is a senior keeper responsible for animals in the Canadian Wilds exhibit.
Through the Zoo’s eco-safari education program he has lead over 15 trips to Africa including the wildebeest migration in the Serengeti, trekking to view gorillas in Rwanda and elephants in Botswana’s Okavango delta. He’s also lead trips to the panda reserve in Wolong province in China, plus explorations in the Galapagos Islands, the Amazon basin and Antarctica.
For the past 10 years Les has been thrilled to be part of Classical Canadian Tours’ trips to view the annual polar bear migration. In 2014 he began hosting trips for Classical Canadian Tours to B.C.’s Khutzeymateen Nature Reserve to see Grizzly bears and to Churchill for summertime viewing of beluga whales.
He is an avid educator and photographer, and remains passionate about wildlife.