We Don’t Need Polar Bears

polar bear In Rhode Island that is. Today’s Providence Journal discusses the relative merits of certain proposed stimulus package projects, mentioning that the Roger Williams Park Zoo polar bear exhibit has come under attack in the national media.

Among 607 pages of stimulus spending proposed last month by the United States Conference of Mayors — and now under consideration by President-elect Barack Obama — is $4.8 million for the Providence polar bear exhibit.

The zoo has had an ugly gap in its smile for some time now, having…

… closed the polar bear exhibit in 2005, with the promise that it would reopen in 2007, and has been working to raise the necessary money. To date, the zoo has raised $25 million toward its $35-million capital campaign. The $4.8 million, if the federal government provided the money, would help the zoo reach its goal, says Jack Mulvena, the zoo’s executive director.

I propose that we should give up the polar bear exhibit at the zoo. Even more important than the fact that this money could be used more appropriately elsewhere, polar bears simply can not be accommodated in any modern zoo anywhere ever. Charismatic mega-fauna like bears and elephants have more to do with the egos of the zoo directors than with a love of animals, conservation or education.

A few facts to consider.  Polar bears are classified as Ursu maritimus for a reason — they are maritime bears.  According to Polar Bears International they can reach a weight of 1500 pounds and easily swim 60 miles at sea without breaking a sweat.  They’ve been spotted swimming hundreds of miles from shore.  No zoo can possibly make enough room for these animals to exercise and be healthy.  They develop repetitive disorders — swaying back and forth and swimming in circles — that are classic signs of psychological distress (must…resist… bipolar…reference). Who wants to see unhappy animals?  It’s depressing and sad.  Besides, just think what the naked mole rats could do with a couple of million dollars?  I’m picturing a casino… artists lofts…

9 thoughts on “We Don’t Need Polar Bears”

  1. ……. trying to remember…….Whatever happened to the days when you were able to make a simple but interesting point about whatever you felt like………without having your head handed to you on a plate…….people are DRUNK with POWER I tell you, DRUNK with POWER..

  2. Well, I don’t know how great my ‘comeback’ is going to be, because frankly I’m still a little baffled about these ‘right wing talking points’ I’m supposed to be using. Matt, could you be more specific? The only point I was making was that I don’t think that sea mammals who normally require great expanses of ocean should find themselves confined to a swimming pool on Elmwood Avenue. It’s cruel.
    Having said that, I did check out the list you provided in your comment above, and now I’m mad about a whole bunch of other stuff. There are some bogus looking programs under ‘Public Safety’ that would appear to be money down a rathole with zero jobs created. What may I ask is the ‘Teaching Police Department’ for $5 million?

  3. It’s a point, damn it. Who cares who used it as a “talking point” first. Can we not discuss an actual issue without ridiculous political bias?

  4. Hi Beth –

    I was not making the assertion that supporting animal rights makes you a right-winger.

    What I was asserting was that right-wing organizations are trying to cherry pick projects – like this project at the zoo – to undermine infrastructure improvement in America.

    If you don’t like zoos or polar bears at zoos, great. I respect that. I even wrote a Phoenix story in support of that.

    But just don’t use right wing talking points as the hook to your story.

    That’s all im sayin.

  5. ….I also have sad memories from looking threw the thick glass window into the polar bears swimming hole at Roger Williams park zoo……. back and forth back and forth..darting for the glass, I thought they were going to crash into the glass….it has made me never ever want to go to a zoo again.
    thou I am well aware that it is a profitable tourist attraction for RI………..need to come up with better global ideas..it’s a beautiful park….but just think about this ….we can’t even see the movie that will most likely win the Academy award this year “The Wrestler” here in RI….how bad are things getting around here…..

  6. When I lived in Baltimore there was a polar bear exhibit at the Druid Hill Park Zoo. I remember watching the bear swim in circles over again and over again and thinking that it was one of the saddest things I’d ever seen; this beautiful bear being reduced to a hamster in spinning itself to death in it’s wheel.

  7. Supporting animal rights makes me a right-winger? Wow… where does that put you on the political spectrum?

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