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President Obama tangles with Bear Grylls, Alaska wilderness — and fish

TODAY gives an exclusive look at President Obama with survival expert Bear Grylls.
/ Source: TODAY

Ever seen President Obama go wild? TODAY has an exclusive look of the nation's chief executive taking on a bear, albeit the domestic kind, in his Alaskan adventure with survival expert Bear Grylls.

“This has got to be one of the best days of my presidency,” Obama said while filming “Running Wild with Bear Grylls” last week. “First of all, I’m not in the office. Second of all, I’m not in a suit.”

The episode was shot while the president paid a three-day visit to Alaska to highlight and observe the impact of climate change on the wilderness of the 49th state. Obama said his primary reasons for curbing climate change are his two daughters and their future children.

“I want to make sure this is there for them, not just for us,” he said.

Obama said he was prepared for his trek with Grylls, but not necessarily for what the adventurer would make the two for lunch.

“I’ve seen some of the stuff Bear eats, and it’s gotta be something that doesn’t still have its legs and eyes on it. I want it not to be too recognizable,” Obama said.

Luckily for the president, it was a piece of salmon. Unfortunately, it was a "bloody carcass," picked over by a bear, the real kind, and left behind on the river bank. Grylls explained that bears often will eat the fattiest part of the fish — the eggs, skin, even the brain — and leave the meat behind.

Yet, the president called the fish, once roasted over the fire, "tasty," although he admitted: "It would have been nice if we had a cracker to go with it."

Overall, the experience wasn't as bad as Obama expected.

“Bear’s a mediocre cook, but the fact that we ate something recognizable was encouraging,” he said. “Now, the fact that he told me this was a leftover fish from a bear, I don’t know if that was necessary. He could have just left that out.”

The president also revealed what he and Grylls have in common — their nicknames.

“As president, I am 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. "Every once in a while, if I do something unexpected, the phrase we use is that, 'The bear is loose,' so to be with Bear in the woods, it doesn’t get any better than that."

While filming the episode last week, Obama took a selfie with Grylls and shared the image on his Instagram account.

"Glad this was the only Bear I met in the park," he wrote in the captions, followed by his initials.

Follow writer Eun Kyung Kim on Twitter.