A future for Knut and all captive polar bears

Knut the controversial polar bear cub is deemed ready by Berlin Zoo and has been put on display to the public but, despite his popularity, his future remains uncertain.   While euthanasia now seems to be off the agenda he cannot be placed back with his mother and father nor released back into the wild. 

So the question remains… what is to happen to Knut?  Berlin Zoo says it’s keen to see Knut become a breeding polar bear, being transported from zoo to zoo, siring more polar bears destined for a life in captivity.  Surely this cannot be Knut’s destiny – the bear used to perpetuate the keeping of this species in captive conditions which, in all likelihood, will lead to abnormal stereotypic behaviour. In my view the conditions at Berlin Zoo and virtually all other zoos simply cannot provide properly for these inquisitive and complex animals which constantly demand new stimuli.

We have been told about a “sanctuary” for polar bears in Canada. Born Free spoke to our colleagues at Zoo Check Canada who said that although still not an ideal place for polar bears to reside, this “sanctuary” is better than any Canadian polar bear zoo enclosure.  The main thing learned from this sanctuary demonstrates, however, is that it may just be possible to create a polar bear rescue centre with large enclosures offering a diverse environment capable of stimulating a polar bears natural behaviour and crucially, providing an alternative to a life within a barren zoo enclosure. 

Many polar bears worldwide find themselves in the same situation as Knut, and many have been suffering far longer.  One of the many letters we received reports on the plight of these Arctic animals being held in particularly poor zoo conditions in Egypt, a country with a climate which could not be further from the natural conditions that a POLAR bear needs. 

The international public has shown its concern for Knut and his future. It is now time to help him and all captive polar bears live a life worth living.

 Signing off for now,

 Will

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