Saturday, August 20, 2011

Polar bear in heat

He walks alone
Quebec City, QC, July 2011

Meet Eddy, the Quebec Aquarium's polar bear. He used to have a friend, Tiguak, but she sadly passed away in April. We visited him on a hot - about 30 C, plus humidity - sunny July day, and the paint scheme on the outdoor part of his enclosure notwithstanding, I couldn't help but wonder what he thought of the heat.

He would alternate between wandering inside, popping into his pool for a dip and, most poignantly, pacing back and forth on the ragged edge of the deck. It's hard to tell what he was thinking, of course, but staff members told us he's been doing this ever since he lost his partner.

I know that the raison d'etre of this incredible facility is conservation and education. But the sight of this magnificent, lonely animal pacing behind plate glass on a hot summer day made me more than a little sad. We sent him virtual hugs from our vantage point and hoped it was enough to cheer him up.

Probably not.

Your turn: Animals in captivity. Supporters say we need aquariums and zoos and the like to teach us all about animals, biology, conservation and the planet. Opponents say it's just plain cruel. Where do you stand? Why?


Kalei's Best Friend said...

When I was a kid growing up I loved the zoos even went to the circus... The older I got, zoos and circuses bothered me... for the obvious reasons... Training animals to perform? wtf?!. Caging animals so we can 'ooh and ahh' at them??? talk about freak shows... and cruelty.. Animals are not here for exhibition.. How would it be if the tables were turned??? Circus vs. zoos to me = what institutions for lost animals are... Its been proven that animals kept in captivity (zoos) don't live very long... Its a frickin' prison.... Sorry, C., you hit a nerve here.... (oops)

Alexia said...

I detest this; one of my saddest memories is of seeing a gorilla in a cage at a zoo in Milwaukee. He was in a concrete cage which would heve been about 10 feet square; he would grasp the bars which constituted the front of the cage and repeatedly shake them before walking the few steps up and down, then return to the bars again. I cried.

Zoos have improved enormously since then, or some have; we have a wonderful one here in Auckland with huge outdoor "enclosures" rather than cages. But it is a prison.

As for elephants in circuses... an abomination.

Cloudia said...

naughty double entendre`

Aloha from Waikiki;

Comfort Spiral
> < } } ( ° >


Betty C. said...

I used to think zoos were "cruel," but now I worry first about all of the cruelty to humans that goes on in the world. I really doubt your polar bear is all that unhappy.

Anonymous said...

Personally, I find zoos and circus' soul crushing. But, that's just me. (Chris F)