Anger is spreading faster than lightning over the death of a polar bear at the hands of a member of cruise staff in the Norwegian Svalbard island chain. The ‘Bremen’ was on a tour of Northern waters when a German employee of the Hapag-Lloyd-owned liner was supposedly set upon by a polar bear, which led his colleague to fatally shoot it.
On Saturday, the liner reached the island of Spitsbergen, which is when the alleged attack occurred on a guard who was sent ashore to confirm the area was bear-free and safe for passengers. International responses have been widespread.
Cruise organizers Hapag-Lloyd position themselves and their ‘Bremen’ cruise as an experience with nature, a premium experience lasting ten days that guarantees polar bear sightings.
Tourists, however, were noticeably absent when the ‘guard’ fatally wounded the bear on this occasion. A representative of Hapag-Lloyd has reported that the guard was accompanied by co-workers when he went on shore.
CNN reports that, according to Hapag-Lloyd, the shooting took place when the guard and his team- a regular and legally-mandated fixture of such Nordic expedition cruises, were getting ready for leave onshore.
The incident has sparked an overwhelming reaction from social media users, who are expressing their outrage over the unnecessary nature of the killing. Angry reactions are centered around the fact that whether or not the shooting was in self-defense, it could have easily been avoided. Creator of ‘The Office’ Ricky Gervais’ tweeted:
“‘Let’s get too close to a polar bear in its natural environment and then kill it if it gets too close,’ Morons,”
Yorkshire-based scholar, Jane Roberts offered her opinion:
“Maybe cruise sightseeing tours shouldn’t take place then polar bear guards wouldn’t be needed to protect gawking tourists & polar bears would be left in peace & not shot dead merely to satisfy a photo op?”
While Biology Professor Adam Hart expressed his disappointment:
“Tourism… again proving itself to be harmful to wildlife.”
Likewise, Daniel Schneider, a Boston-based marine biologist, concurred:
“This #polarbear home was invaded from tourists from the Cruise Ship MS Bremen. He defended himself, in his home, mildly injuring a “polar bear guard”. He was then shot dead. Here’s a thought. Why not look at the bears from afar and leave them alone. RT to Leave the Bears alone.”
Armed protection from Polar Bears?
The supposed role of such ‘guards’ is to guard cruise passengers against potential attacks while they venture out on their onshore excursions, the Huffington Post reports. Such armed cruise employees are reportedly specially equipped with training for instances such as these.
However, Saturday’s tragic incident involved a distinct absence of tourists, so there was nobody to ‘guard’ or protect. Rather, ‘Bremen’ employees were configuring a station for landing equipment at the time that they were allegedly attacked by the bear. Ole Jakob Malmo, police officer from Svalbord, has announced that an official investigation should be taking place into the incident.
Meanwhile, Hapag-Lloyd has taken to Twitter to make their statement:
Perhaps travel companies should stop using wild animals to fuel their tourism trade, and instead be willing to simply view these magnificent creatures from afar.
Share this post if you think there should be stricter regulations on tourism too. Not every corner of the world needs to be opened