by Elizah Leigh
Categories: Animals
Tags: .

When you remove wild animals from the vast open spaces they’re instinctually accustomed to and cram them into unnatural, man-made environments, something not-so-good is bound to happen.

Some may argue that at least we’re helping to preserve global species by studying them, attempting to breed them and offering them a far more comfortable existence, but polar bears like Knut and his companion Gianna may beg to differ, along with 75 – 90% of their captive brethren.

The 4-year-old German-born bear, who was hand raised by zookeepers after his mother rejected him, has been a media darling for years, defying the odds by being the Berlin Zoo’s first Ursus maritimus to survive beyond birth in over three decades.

Unfortunately, he and his gal (who share the same bloodline, so no nookie for them) have been going through a rough time as they are experiencing, what is described by scientists, as psychological problems, including panic attacks, chronic stress and mimicking behaviors – as far back as 2008 a noted animal conservationist even labeled Knut “an animal psychopath”.

Sadly, with all of the visitors milling through his enclosure, Knut has now taken to imitating snap-happy individuals with his paws and he also abnormally sways back and forth, one zookeeper even going as far as to suggest that “he identifies himself as a human and not as a polar bear.”

Breeding polar bears in captivity (not to mention countless other exotics) doesn’t seem like the good idea that many once thought it was. What do you think about the idea? Chime in and share your thoughts!


  • Polar bears are cute!

    I thought all Polar bears sway back and forth, last time I went to the local Zoo, he did it too…
    Yep, polar bears are cute and should live up north, and be left alone by us stupid humans! Boycott your local(and other) Zoos!

  • maria Romano trampe’

    I don’t agree with enclosing wild caught animals in zoo’s, so some may find it strange that I am a Docent(volunteer educator) at a Zoo! Let me explain… First off 90% of the animals at the Elmwood Park zoo are animals that were either injured or confiscated or turned over after being someones”pet”. When I decided I wanted to “do something” to bring awareness to the public about the extinction of our wildlife and about conservation, I thought long and hard about where I could reach a large number of people. The reason I finally settled on a zoo was because , as much as I dislike these animals being in captivity, the hard truth is, that people(you and I included) need to SEE and EXPERIENCE something before we are willing to commit to helping it. Humans want to save the things they love and the only way the get that connection is to have an experience with that thing. I use my position as a vehicle to get my message across and make people see that, for example, a snake is not a horrible ugly monster that wants to attack, or to get the message out that wild animals are not pets and should not be treated as such. If we just simply went around telling people these things without letting them physically see and touch, the messages would simply be ignored. So as much as I feel disdain for wild animals in Zoo’s , I also feel the are an evil necessity.

  • Wendy

    I understand, and go along with wholeheartedly, the idea of saving species, but we have to look at how they would normally live in the wild at the same time. Yes, it may be more difficult and costly to give them a better environment to live in this way, but look at what we have done to this poor animal and his partner. You can’t take an animal used to living in a very large area and put them in a small enclosure and expect them to be okay. A human would go mad, too!! Liken it to solitary confinement in a prison, but without the torturous treatment. Good nutrition and love don’t always solve the problems for a wild creature. I hope that we, as humans, begin to think more like the animals we try to save when we are going about trying to help them.

    • joan

      I cannot agree move with Wendy. Zoos should not keep wild animals to entertain us and make monies, of course.

  • georgina0912

    Unless the animal is in captivity because it was rescued from a precarious situation and cannot be released into its natural habitat because it would never survive, wild animals should be left where they are. Just like elephants do not belong in circuses Knut and his kind belong wherever they come from. Having said that, i would be more than happy to visit a sanctuary but never a zoo.

    Poor Knut, but also poor every-other-animal-that-has-been-caged for the sake of displaying him/her and making a profit.

  • Lucia de Abreu

    Having read today about Knut’s sad story, it makes me really angry that people are even considering putting him to sleep…to end his suffering? Really? This poor bear was brought up by humans, and as an intelligent, sociable creature he developed certain behaviours that enabled him to cope and feel wanted. Now that he has grown up people forget that he shouldn´t just be abandoned…and left on his devise..

    He needs stimulation and attention, like you would do to a human (off course it´s a very large bear, so this would have to be done carefully). Like a therapy to make him accept a different life (as a bear) but still not loose the attention he thrived on.

    Instead of just trying to wipe the problem out of the humans hands, we are responsible for him now and should make his life more beareable…otherwise, like a prisoner in solitary confinement he will slowly loose the will to live. And it´s so unfair for him…

    This should also give humans a valuable lesson on how to handle future orphan cubs… we can´t just make them part of a show, but have a closer to nature upbringing

  • Helena

    We don’t leave in a perfect world and since our planet is facing a global weather change, I believe the Zoo work is very important.

    Through the world several Zoo facilities attempt to improve the animals habitat is being made and will continue to be made.

    And some day some species will only exist in Zoo and hopefully in some future they will be introduce again in their natural habitats.

  • external sound card

    Such a sweet creature. I remeber when he was born and I could have cuddeled him all day long =). Sadly he is dead now. RIP