Out of the many animals under threat of disappearing due to human-caused climate change, perhaps the most endangered is the polar bear. With only 25,000 of the largest bears on Earth remaining, they face some serious challenges to their survival. At every opportunity, we as humans should be doing everything we can to protect them so the species has a fighting chance of making it to the next century.
That's why so many people were outraged earlier this week when word got out that a German cruise line — Hapag-Lloyd Cruises — was responsible for killing one of these amazing animals.
The cruise line was docked at Spitsbergen, an island in the Svalbard archipelago belonging to Norway. Because of the prevalence of polar bears — according to officials, there are more bears than humans on the island — "polar bear guards" are required by law for any cruise ship wishing to come ashore. The guards' role is to search the area before tourists step on land to make sure no bears are nearby. This time they did a horrible job, and while the guards were scanning the area, one was attacked and another guard shot and killed the attacking bear.
While the guard's injuries weren't life-threatening, his negligence and that of his colleagues left one of Svalbard's bears dead.
Hapag-Lloyd is putting their bottom line before the safety and of an entire species of animal that could very well disappear if we don't take action. We can't afford to shoot these bears simply because we want to have a closer look at their habitat. That doesn't seem to be in the spirit of wanting to see polar bears up close and personal in the first place.
The cruise line should no longer put their employees, tourists or bears in harm's way by docking and coming ashore in areas where they are likely to come into close contact with polar bears.
Please sign the petition if you agree. Sign and demand that Hapag-Lloyd cancel their cruise that puts polar bears at risk.
Photo credit: Gustav Busch Arntsen via Getty Images