Polar Bear Shot Dead After Attacking Cruise Ship Guard

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Polar Bear shot deadReuters

A polar bear was shot dead after it attacked a cruise ship employee.

The incident took place during a cruise ship tour of an Arctic archipelago when the worker – who’s a designated polar bear guard – suffered a head injury as a result of the attack, as he led tourists off the ship.

Despite criticism on social media from animal rights activists, such as comedian Ricky Gervais, the cruise company have defended their actions, claiming the bear was killed in self-defence.

Polar bear and cubWikipedia

The polar bear guard, who’s not been named, was said to be unresponsive when he was flown out to Spitsbergen island to receive medical treatment.

However, it’s understood he’s not in a life-threatening condition, according to Sky News.

A spokesperson for the cruise company stated the polar bear was killed ‘in an act of self-defence’. Hapag-Lloyd Cruises’ requirements state all of their ships travelling in the Arctic archipelago must have a team of polar bear guards onboard.

Cruise officials claim the attack took place when tourists on the MS Bremen disembarked on the northernmost part of the island, in the Svalbard archipelago, located between Norway’s mainland and the North Pole.

Polar BearGetty

The area has seen an increase in tourism in recent years, with the footfall peaking during the summer season. According to a Longyearbyen port schedule, obtained by Sky News, at least 18 cruise ships will dock at the port this week alone.

While polar bear attacks are not a frequent occurrence, it’s not unheard of. In 2011, a British student, Horatio Chapple, died while on a school trip to Svalbard, after a polar bear dragged him away by the head.

Scientists believe climate change, as well as human presence, could be a contributing factor to the rise in attacks. It’s understood polar bears will only attack if they are hungry.

Furthermore, with rising temperatures melting sea ice, animals in those areas are expected to move closer inland where it’s likely to have human setups who they’ll consider as food.

On the flipside of the debate, tourist companies who offer these ‘close encounter’ experiences claim it benefits polar bears and other animals as it will increase their confidence being around humans.

Despite the claims of self-defence the cruise company has still come under scrutiny from animal rights activists, including comedian Ricky Gervais, who labelled them ‘Morons’.

He tweeted:

“Let’s get too close to a polar bear in its natural environment and then kill it if it gets too close”. Morons [sic]

One person on Twitter wrote:

This is preventable! Polar bear was defending his/her home! Investigate the expedition company for improper practices!

Another person wrote:

Polar Bear killed for being a Polar Bear.

I give up sometimes, I really do.

While another posted:

Human atrocity. Have fun in its natural habitat. Kill it when it acts in self defence. Humans will wipe this planet clean. Idiots.

Another gave their opinion, saying:

No. The ‘animal’, a polar bear and member of an endangered species, was in self-defence and defence-of-habitat mode, and was killed. Stop invasive tours.

According to the World Wildlife Foundation (WWF), the current population of the polar bear species stands at 22,000-31,000.

If you have a story to tell, contact UNILAD via [email protected]