A NEW report released on International Polar Bear Day (27 February) claims that polar bears should no longer be kept in captivity.
The report, by international wildlife charity Born Free, is calling for an urgent review into polar bears living in zoos and the physical and psychological impact that life in captivity has on this species. Born Free wants an end to polar bears living in captivity and the end of polar bear captive breeding programmes.
There are 151 polar bears living in zoos in Europe, including 12 in the UK. The report claims that there is just not enough space in captivity to keep polar bears happy and allow them to behave as they naturally would in the wild.
Wild polar bears spend most of their lives roaming a huge area of land, hundreds of thousands of kilometres in size, which is impossible to replicate in a zoo.
The location of zoos can also be a problem for the bears. Polar bears’ natural habitat is the frozen Arctic, so in warmer countries they’ve been found to suffer from heat stress because the temperature is too high for them.
Captive polar bears have also been found displaying behaviours that could be caused by stress, including pacing and neck twisting.
Will Travers, Born Free’s co-founder and executive president, said: “The message is simple. No more breeding, no more imports, phase out the suffering, and have the honesty and integrity to recognise what has been staring us in the face for decades: that polar bears cannot endure a life in zoos.”
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