Beware of the bears

by Anthony Bradley
Posted on Wednesday, April 15, 2009, at 2:30 pm

When will people learn that the "cute" animals at the zoo are not domesticated? In Germany, at the Berlin Zoo last Friday afternoon, a polar bear attacked and wounded a woman after she climbed a fence and jumped into its habitat during feeding time, according to the police. Why did she do that?

In this case the bear actually did nothing wrong. It's a polar bear. They eat other mammals. It's a wild animal. The Berlin Zoo is not a petting zoo. The woman was bitten several times after she plunged into the bear's enclosure. Call me mean, but it's hard to feel sorry for someone who willingly chose to get close to a polar bear.

According to SeaWorld, polar bears feed mainly on ringed and bearded seals. Depending upon their location, they also eat harp and hooded seals and scavenge on carcasses of beluga whales, walruses, narwhals, and bowhead whales.

Zoo workers rescued the woman while distracting other polar bears swimming nearby, according to police. No one is sure why the woman entered the bear habitat in the first place.

We are hearing more and more stories like this one. A few month ago a 20-year-old Chinese student required surgery because of injuries from serious bites after he scaled a two-meter fence in an attempt to cuddle a panda bear.

Perhaps adults have watched too many cartoons or children's programs over the years and not enough National Geographic nature programs, because people wrongly believe that just because an animal is in a zoo that it's been domesticated. Wrong. These animals are nothing more than wild animals trapped in a zoo. The "do not touch the animals" and "stay out" signs are posted for a reason, namely our protection.

Here's the moral story: If you want to play with random bears, that's fine, but you're going to have to wait until heaven to do so. In the meantime, stay out of the bear cages, because bears bite.

Anthony Bradley

Anthony is associate professor of religious studies at The King's College in New York and a research fellow at the Acton Institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty.

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