Zoos should be banned from keeping polar bears, as their upkeep leads to more global warming.
That’s the claim touted by Wildlife charity Born Free, alleging that the greenhouse gas emissions created in keeping the bears within captivity is exacerbating climate change.
Animals that “survive and thrive in some of the coldest and most extreme climates in the world in the Arctic North” should not be kept in captivity, the group claims.
To support its stance, Born Free brings to light the enclosures needing for keeping the bears – built with concrete and steel, which both account for 8% of the world’s emissions each.
In addition to this, keeping the polar bears in a cool environment requires a water purification system which needs an energy supply 24 hours a day, the charity stresses.
Food imports, waste disposal and refrigeration of certain items are also all listed as ways that keeping polar bears increases emissions.
Aside from the purely environmental perspective, the researchers also reveal that in the wild, bears are able to travel a distance the size of Austria – something unafforded to them in captivity.
The report reads: “Removing polar bears from the wild both diminishes their ecosystem’s ability to provide services to the biosphere whilst adding to anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions. Animal welfare aside, this begs the question as to whether zoos are doing more harm than good to the ecology of the planet.”
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs responded: “We do not have any plans to ban the keeping of polar bears across the zoo sector. The UK has some of the highest animal welfare standards in the world.
“All zoos have to comply with welfare requirements for the animals they keep – and Defra and the UK zoos expert committee are currently revising the Secretary of State’s standards of modern zoos practice in order to bring them into line with current best practice on animal health, welfare and husbandry, and on public safety standards.”