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You’d be hard-pressed to find someone who is unfamiliar with the plight of polar bears. These animals are awe-inspiring and symbolic of the unconquerable frozen regions of the North Pole, however, in recent years, this status has diminished significantly. Driven by rampant greenhouse gases and climate change, the polar bear’s Arctic home has been receding rapidly. Because of this loss of ice, polar bears are unable to hunt or subsist in their environment, the U.S. Geological Survey projects that two-thirds of polar bears will disappear by 2050. Times have become so dire for this species that they’ve been observed resorting to eating dolphins, and traveling further into human territory – one haunting image even showed a polar bear rummaging through a landfill in search of food. The fact is, this species is in grave danger of extinction.

While their native home is melting away, polar bears are being placed in captivity and put on display in an effort to “raise awareness” for their plight. Although the wild polar bear is hanging on for survival, there seems to be at least one polar bear in zoos across the world. Some argue that keeping these animals in captive environments is the one way that we can ensure that they will endure for future generations – given that the wild is not a “safe” place for them anymore. It is also believed that getting people to see these animals up close and personal will inspire them to stand up for the species – in a way that they wouldn’t otherwise.

The reality, however, is that captivity, in no way benefits the polar bear – or any other – species. A growing body of evidence suggests that the act of watching an animal languish in a small enclosure does not, in fact, teach children or adults about the importance of conserving these species in the wild. Rather, zoos exist for entertainment and profit purposes that come at the great expense of the animals. Something this heartbreaking image illustrates with great clarity.

This baby will never know the wild home she was meant to live in. Nor will she understand what it truly means to be a polar bear.


This image has been construed as a sweet moment between a mother and her baby, but that betrays the profound reality of their sad situation. In captivity, these animals will only ever get to experience a small fraction of what their lives could have been. In the wild, they would have had miles and miles of ice to roam across and enjoy the thrill of hunting and interacting in family and social groups. Their lives would have had a very distinct meaning and purpose entirely of their own volition. Instead, they are confined to a glorified prison cell that is artificially cooled and packed with ice to keep them “comfortable.” The extreme boredom and frustration with this tiny ice box will likely lead them to exhibit stereotypic behaviors such as pacing or head bobbing. These pointless, repetitive actions are thought to be physical manifestations of extreme mental distress. According to Polar Bears International, “Some 85 percent of North American polar bears [in zoos] do it, devoting nearly a quarter of their “active day” (i.e. the time they spend alert and moving) to this behavior.”

If anything, this image is a harsh reminder that we owe these incredible animals so much more than a life in captivity. We owe them their wild home and a life free from the threat of starvation, boredom, or any other harm inflicted by humans.

The only way to really protect these animals is by saving their habitat – and this is something we can all do every single day by simply choosing to #EatForThePlanet. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimates that livestock production is responsible for 14.5 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, while other organizations like the Worldwatch Institute have estimated it could be as much as 51 percent. Additionally, this destructive industry currently occupies over half of the world’s arable land resources, and uses the majority of our freshwater stores. This system causes rampant air and water pollution, land degradation, deforestation and is pushing countless species to the brink of extinction. And yet, one in eight people still suffer from food scarcity.

“The real war against climate change is being fought on our plates, multiple times a day with every food choice we make,” said Nil Zacharias, co-founder and Editor-in-Chief of One Green Planet, ”one of the biggest challenges facing our planet, and our species is that we are knowingly eating ourselves into extinction, and doing very little about it.”

As the leading organization at the forefront of the conscious consumerism movement, it is One Green Planet’s view that our food choices have the power to heal our broken food system, give species a fighting chance for survival, and pave the way for a truly sustainable future. By choosing to eat more plant-based foods, you can drastically cut your carbon footprint, save precious water supplies and help ensure that vital crop resources are fed to people, rather than livestock. With the wealth of available plant-based options available and One Green Planet’s Food Monster App, it has never been easier to eat with the planet in mind.

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454 comments on “Why Photo of a Mother Polar Bear Hugging Her Baby in Zoo Enclosure is Anything But Cute”

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Patricia Laurin
6 Days ago

By the time, this cub grows up, we humans will have destroyed the whole world. We are either chopping down forests to make more room for homes for "us" to live in or destroying the oceans and lakes by contaminating the waters or by believing there is no such thing as "global warming". The proof as they say "is in the pudding". Look at the North and South poles. All the ice is melting and we are not doing anything (or very little) to stop it.

john pasqua
8 Days ago


8 Days ago

Polar bears don\'t "understand what it means to be a polar bear." They\'re animals. Impressive animals, but it\'s nature. For instance, the more you help wild polar bears have the "thrill of the hunt" the more ringed seals and bearded seals will get ripped apart and killed horrendously. Both of them are just as adorable as polar bears and also threatened.

That\'s nature... the more you help one species, the more you hut another.

18 Jun 2017

I have to agree with you. Leo Decaprio has a lot of time and money on his hands right now since he is not acting or doing the job he was hired for.. Yes, we are overdue for an ice age by about 1,000 years, however, having said that the earth is going to do what the earth is going to do. I am very unhappy about the polar bears and other mammals being killed as well. However, I am a Doctor of Criminal Justice in about five months and these people, come hell or high water, are not gointg to change our goverrnment unless they want to change our government. And quite frankly. Natgeo, you are correct...bears eat people who are a pain in the ass and people don\'t eat bears unless they can put them on their wall.. If there is a solution I hope we find it.My refereence is that idiot who got eaten in Grizzly Man. Dont feel sorry for him. Human mammals need to leave wildlife alone.

8 Days ago

This writer obviously doesn\'t watch NatGeo wild...polar bears are very antisocial. They don\'t do social gatherings unless it\'s time to mate. If I remember correctly, most bears don\'t have social gatherings unless it\'s time to mate. "Their lives would have had a very distinct meaning and purpose entirely of their own volition." Ummmm...they have one purpose for the most part...get food. Oh....they\'re going to get together in their social gatherings and figure out how to end world hunger! Gotcha.

18 Jun 2017

Well said!

Silver wing
9 Days ago

Quite a few trolls on this one. It would not be a bad idea if administration exert some kind of control to spare us of the nonsense of some bigots and idiots.

paul reich
9 Days ago

Animals do not have "volitiion"
I doubt animals have much self-awareness.
It\'s hard for me to believe animals have a sense of their own individuality or mortality
When an animal is bored or depressed, it doesn\'t mean they have conciousness of these things happening.
Most people would say insects have no consciousness, they are simply biological machines.
I believe the same holds true for most animals. Perhaps big mammmals do you have some small self-awareness, but that should not mean Humans must suffer on account of that

18 Jun 2017

your a stupid fuck and i hope you read this

Ed Owens
18 Jun 2017

I feel the same about 99.9% of the people I have ever met. Totally useless space takers who do absolutely nothing for the species. They sound a lot like people like you.

Muriel Servaege
9 Days ago

Sad picture, really.

18 Jun 2017

its a sad picture because you were told it was a sad picture don\'t be a foo land a lemming think for yourself!!

9 Days ago

B. S. !! Bears, ANY bears are not now, nor have they ever been "social" creatures. This disinformation piece is journalistic malpractice and it\'s only goal is to perpetuate the brainwashing of the liberal, progressive snowflakes!

18 Jun 2017

It never fails! Someone always has to make a political remark! Get over the snowflake shit while your at it. What are you a ten year old.

18 Jun 2017

Don\'t bother talking to people who refuse to read, grow, and learn. They have nothing to offer to society other than blubber.

9 Days ago

Polar Bear populations have QUADRUPLED and are continuing to expand. This article is full of lies and ignorance to appeal to those people who have no knowledge of the truth. The writer and the publishing organization are simply hucksters trying to gain money and subscribers by being untruthful. There\'s a dozen different, TRUTHFUL, polar bear related organizations and websites that will let you know that the polar bear population was around 5,000 to 7,000 in the 1950\'s and is approaching 35,000 now.

18 Jun 2017

in the 1950\\\'s was around 5,000 to 7,00 idiots like you ... and is approaching 150 millions now,
almost half of this country...

9 Days ago

It\'s HILARIOUS how you filthy liberal vermin lament about how "that baby polar bear will never know the environment it was meant to live in"....while systematically applauding the mass slaughter of unborn human babies. Hahahahaha

18 Jun 2017

its HILARIOUS how you turn a simple article on polar bears into a discussion on abortion. why don\'t you keep your sanctimonious ass out of other peoples, bodies.... sex lives.... business. I will believe in your right to life shit when you and your goddam church distribute condoms, sex education, and birth control and stop using your goddam book to spread hate.

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