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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.

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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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Image source: Imgur

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

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Linda Miller
10 Days ago

I have increased the consumption of leafy greens in our house but I still have to buy red meat. My husband has multiple myeloma and has to consume more red meat than normal. I truly wish we could save our polar bears and more. At the rate poaching is going we will not have elephants or rhinos very much longer. It\'s sad to say, but we need another flu epidemic or rather pandemic to cut down the population of people. Usually by now mother nature has taken care of our tendency to over populate.


Reply
ave sevv
10 Days ago

zoo suck but we are klllng this planet so fast that is does not matter anymore. We are way past the point of saving this place, eWhen anyone says "I am having a baby I think, of good that will kll earth even faster Good job Humans


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MMC
10 Days ago

Those zoos are also saving their species from starvation, hunters, predators, disease, injuries, attacks by other bears & a life of suffering. As long as the zoos provide adequate space, cooling, food, medical care & sanitation they are no more languishing than your dogs in your fenced yard. Maybe all their dogs should be released from captivity to starve in the wild like they are proposing for the bears. It is the same scenario. If we were to dump these cute bears back into their environment they would be dead within 2 years and the species would become extinct. Most zoos and wildlife sanctuaries are saving these animals from extinction, starvation, hunger, etc. If their efforts fall short, then find a way to make them improve. Money, sanctions, authorities, etc. As for the climate, only the harshest restrictions on industry, pollution, vehicle emissions & fossil fuels will help. They always blame the consumer when it is industry & corporations who pollute & waste energy & water, running their lights & sprinklers 24/7 & truckloads of unrecycled trash. These bears aren\'t victims. They are protected & saving their species from certain death in the wild. Like your pet dogs which these people don\'t seem to mind being captive in fenced homes. Are the dogs suffering? Are you suffering from being enclosed in your apartment or home? This is a double standard of the worst kind so they can make you feel guilty to donate your money so they don\'t have to work. Think about it.


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Karen
10 Days ago

https://www.thegwpf.org/as-polar-bear-numbers-increase-gwpf-calls-for-re-assessment-of-endangered-species-status/


Reply
Karen
10 Days ago

https://www.thegwpf.org/as-polar-bear-numbers-increase-gwpf-calls-for-re-assessment-of-endangered-species-status/


Reply
KAREN A WHITE
10 Days ago

What I don\'t understand is this........Through the ages, animals adapt. If it gets warmer a little each year, they adapt, hotter, they adapt. It is a gradual evolution.


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leitha
13 Aug 2017

Cant adapt to swimming sixty miles when the chunk of ice your on melts away under your feet.

Common-Sense
10 Days ago

This is not a "man-made" climate change. The earth climate comes in cycles. Sorry Al Gore for your $$$$ Convenient-lie $$$$.

\'Global warming the greatest scam in history\' ,claims founder of Weather Channel.

http://www.express.co.uk/news/clarifications-corrections/526191/Climate-change-is-a-lie-global-warming-not-real-claims-weather-channel-founder


Reply
Patricia Laurin
2 Months 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.


Reply
Frank
12 Aug 2017

Why are you still here consuming resources? Or is it all the other people that are the problem?

leitha
13 Aug 2017

Population control. Too many people. We\'ve reached the carrying capacity of this earth.

john pasqua
2 Months Ago

BAN ALL CRUEL CAPTIVITY ON A LL WILDLIFE NOW.


Reply
Wesley
2 Months 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.


Reply
JJ
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.



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