One's Flocke (in English, Snowflake), whom keepers at Germany's Nuremberg Zoo took from its mother, Vera, and began to nurse by hand weeks ago. A flurry of publicity and photos like that above (credit) prompted nearly 30,000 persons to join a global cub-naming contest. But as Spiegel Online stresses, beneath the surface the story is in no way cute:
This nonnurturing behavior scarcely ought to surprise, Spiegel continues:
2008 is fast proving to be a year of cold reality as far as bears are concerned. In early January, two pregnant polar bears at Nuremberg Zoo in Bavaria showed the public just how merciless nature really is ....
One of the females, Vera, staggered through the enclosure with her cub, still blind after birth, in her mouth, dropping it on the stone surface several times. Zoo personnel removed the cub after concluding that the bear was incapable of raising her own young. A short time earlier another female, Vilma, attacked her twin cubs and promptly ate them.
[D]espite public perception, polar bears in zoos endure a wretched existence. 'Keeping polar bears in enclosures is as unnatural for the species as locking a child in a tiny room for the rest of his life,' says Rüdiger Schmiedel, director of the German Bear Foundation.
The arguments against listing the polar bear don't stand up either legally or as a matter of policy. The polar bear fits the law's definition of a threatened species. Although the ESA cannot solve the problem of global warming, it might help push the nation toward a more effective solution. Listing ... might help the bear in small ways, by forcing offshore oil interests in the arctic to take better account of their environmental impacts.