Polar bear cubs at Nuremberg Zoo?

Dear Friends

I am sure that you have read or heard about the unbelievable situation at the EAZA* member Nuremburg Zoo and their polar bears. If you haven’t let me fill you in on the situation.

The latest reports indicate that Nuremburg Zoo has decided that it will not intervene and hand-rear the polar bear cubs that ‘might’ have recently been born to two female bears at the zoo, despite concerns that one of the females shows signs of rejecting her cubs. If this is the case, the cubs will then, if they haven’t already, starve to death. I say ‘might’ have been born, because it appears that information is lacking on the exact situation at the zoo, with some reports indicating that the cubs are already dead or dying, and others that the zoo is reporting cub noises from the den. The whole situation is extremely unclear and very unsatisfactory.

This situation follows the recent media furor over Knut the polar bear at Berlin Zoo, who was hand-reared after rejection by his mother, and led to a global phenomenon of “Knutmania” and considerable financial gain to the zoo.

Apparently, Nuremburg Zoo has bred several polar bears over the years, many of which have been hand-raised. The decision not to intervene is a recent one, but the zoo has stated that hand-rearing must be decided on a case-by-case basis.

The fact remains that breeding polar bears in captivity will have little or no impact on polar bear conservation in the wild. In addition, captive polar bear enclosures are, on average, around one millionth the size of a polar bear’s range in the wild, and it is well known that wide-ranging carnivores such as polar bears show high rates of infant mortality and abnormal behaviour in captivity. Nuremburg Zoo have made the (misguided) decision to breed polar bears, and it is THEIR responsibility to ensure that the welfare and lifetime care of these cubs are safeguarded.

Zoo Check and polar bear pages

Blogging off


*EAZA – european Association of Zoos and Aquaria

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