Lonely Planet Writer

Obama goes wild on Bear Gryll's TV show

Barack Obama starred in Thursday’s showing of Running Wild With Bear Grylls, where the ex-military man brings celebrities on survivalist challenges in the wild.

Barack Obama and Bear Grylls cosy up for a selfie
Barack Obama and Bear Grylls cosy up for a selfie Image by White House Instagram

The US president treked, made tea out of water from a glacier, and ate a raw salmon that had previously been chewed by a bear as part of his ‘wilderness bromance’ as The Guardian described it. He was appearing on the show as part of a wider campaign to promote action on climate change.

The hour long episode was full of gags, notably when Bear Grylls tried to get the President to drink his own urine. Obama refused. “I suppose, in extremis, it’s something that I would do – if the alternative was death,” he said. “It’s not something I’d make a habit of. And I probably wouldn’t do it just for a TV show.” Grylls has previously been successful in getting celebrities on the show to drink their own urine.

The pair hiked across Exit glacier in the Kenai mountain in Alaska, and both commented on the retreating glacier as a result of global warming. “I think it will have a more significant impact on the lives of future generations as just about anything. And we’re still a long way from getting it right but it’s something that, working together, I think we can make a difference on,” Obama commented.

Obama was relaxed and personable on the show, talking about fatherhood and flatulence. When Bear Grylls informed him that catkins were a good natural remedy for flatulence, the President quipped, ““It’s not a problem I have but maybe you do.” Later when Grylls warned about how bears are particularly dangerous when stumbled upon while fornicating, Obama made the observation that they were similar to humans in that way.

A "bear breath" fresh salmon that Obama went on to eat
A “bear breath” fresh salmon that Obama went on to eat Image by TIME Video

Whilst the show appeared to present Grylls and Obama out in the wilderness without a care in the world, which Obama pointed out to cameras several times. “I’m in what’s called the bubble and secret service makes sure that I’m always out of danger, which I very much appreciate but it can be a little confining,” he said. During the filming they were followed by a helicopter, snipers, and the secret service.

The show ended with Grylls, who is an evangelical Christian, saying a prayer for the President before he headed off.

The episode was shown at a delicate time when Obama has just agreed to plans laid out in the Paris climate summit, and a week before a visit to the families of the victims of the San Bernardino shootings.