Mysterious, powerful, dangerous and stunningly beautiful, the polar bear, currently in danger of extinction due to climate change, evokes fascination and awe. They are one of the most iconic and legendary animals to grace this planet. To the Inuit, they are Nanuq, an animal worthy of great respect who is dangerous to dishonor. The Norse poets call them The Rider of Icebergs and White Sea Deer. But for one Russian cook stationed on the Rusalyans construction site on a remote island in the Chukchi Sea northwest of Alaska, the life of one female bear meant little more than a joke.
Apparently, he so lacked for entertainment he thought it would be "fun" to feed a visiting mother polar bear with a flare or firecracker in a morsel of food. The video depicting the bears agonizing writhing has swept the internet and incurred worldwide outrage, as it should. (Be warned the video is hard to watch) Even more outrageous, the polar bear is listed as an endangered species in the Red Book of the Russian Federation, and protected by the international treaties of the polar bear, and so, this criminal act will hopefully result in jail time for the perpetrator. The Head of the Ministry of Natural Resources, Sergey Donskoy, has made an official appeal to the General Prosecutor's Office for a full investigation into the incident calling it a "cold-blooded murder" on their website.
The image of the mother bear writhing in agony has blighted my days; that such a mythic creature was subjected to such wanton cruelty, I have not stopped thinking about it since. Such a deliberate act of inflicting prolonged pain on an animal can only be described as psychotic behavior of which we see too much of late. Not only did the cook cause the agonizing death of a protected animal, but he also left her cub bereft of a mother, a guardian, a teacher and potentially left him or her to starve to death. The Russian cook is responsible for the prolonged suffering and death of not one but possibly two endangered animals.
We are currently being bombarded by videos depicting extreme cruelty and violence not only towards humans but animals as well. The Internet has given the public an amazing tool to expose animal cruelty and hunt down the offenders. The killing of "Cecil" the lion in 2015 by Minnesota dentist, Walter Palmer, ignited a fire about trophy hunting that has yet to die down. The outrage fueled the passage of The Global Anti-Poaching Act. Undercover footage from inside slaughterhouses created such a furor many states tried, some successfully, to instigate Ag-gag laws basically making it illegal to film undercover inside slaughterhouses in an attempt to conceal animal cruelty. No longer can hunter's hide in the woods as they shoot, trap, and kill wildlife with impunity. The recent public uproar over the Florida and New Jersey black bear hunts are testimonies to this. (see my previous blog posts)
We are on the brink of unprecedented climatic change that is likely to cause the sixth mass extinction and meanwhile men like this Russian cook, and the Walter Palmer's of this world continue to think it a good pastime to cause suffering and death to the animals of this planet who already face arduous challenges just to survive.
The word Arctic is derived from the Greek word meaning bear, Arktos - the land does not belong to us, the animals do not belong to us. People often ask, what would the world look like without these creatures as a beseechment to save them. What we haven't figured out yet is that we won't be around to see it. Without the animals, there is no world for us. They are the one's that are an integral part of this ecosystem, not humans.
To help urge the Russian General Prosecutor's Office to do a complete investigation into this murder and bring the culprit to trial, please sign this petition.