In What Way Can This Be Considered Educational: Polar Bears In The Zoo

Sadly, unhealthy and dreary polar bear enclosures such as this still exist. Chile’s only polar bear “Taco” died in 2015 at the age of 18 at the National Zoo in Santiago. For years, activists protested its captivity, sometimes with blockades and burning barricades. [Photo by Aldo Fontana]

In urban areas of the western hemisphere, polar bears have lived in our midst since the Middle Ages—a result of our fascination with these charismatic carnivores. As early as 1252, Henry III of England kept a muzzled and chained polar bear, which was allowed to catch fish and frolic about in the Thames. The first undisputed documentation of polar bears in Europe shows that the bears arrived by way of Greenlandic Norse traders and from Iceland, where sea currents still sometimes maroon them. Viking entrepreneurs distributed them to royalty throughout Europe, who kept them in ostentatious menageries or passed them on as gifts to grease diplomatic gears and careers.

Beginning in 1693, the first King of Prussia, Frederick I, kept a polar bear and other large mammals for public amusement in a baroque-style hunting enclosure inspired by Roman arenas. These rare animals were too valuable to be killed but, defanged and de-clawed, were pitted against each other in faux fights. During medieval times in England, entertainers displayed all sorts of animals at carnivals and fairs. The traveling menagerie, which derived from the processions of Europe’s ambulatory monarchs and their entourages, first took to the roads at the turn of the eighteenth century. In a bid for respectability, the owner of one bragged he was doing “more to familiarize the minds of the masses of our people with the denizens of the forest than all the books of natural history ever printed.”

Around this same period of time, a burgeoning middle class and expeditions to the Americas, Asia, and Africa, as well as new developments in science and philosophy, brought about changes in how polar bears were displayed. Animal collections in Europe—until then largely a privilege of nobility—increasingly welcomed the public. Featured in these publicly accessible collections, polar bears drew a good deal of attention, just as they did in medieval wildlife collections or “menageries” (such as the one in the Tower of London).

The Royal Menagerie: An illustration of how the zoo within the Tower looked in 1816

Nobody contributed more to the popularity of captive polar bears or the looks of modern zoos than Carl Hagenbeck. In 1848, Carl Hagenbeck Sr., a Hamburg fishmonger, exhibited six seals he’d received as bycatch from fishermen before selling the seals at a handsome profit. At age fifteen, Carl Hagenbeck Jr. took over what would become Europe’s most famous animal-trade business. He soon supplied zoos, menageries, and wealthy individuals, including the Kaiser. In his early twenties, Hagenbeck already ranked among Europe’s top dealers in exotics. With a nose for opportunity, he branched out into the budding entertainment industry, mounting “ethnological” and large carnivore shows as well as a circus.

Some of the Polar Bears abducted by the Hagenbecks faced a fate worse than zoo captivity. These seven polar bears were forced to become performers by Carl’s relative Wilhelm Hagenbeck. 

From their very beginnings as cultural institutions, zoos have tried to balance entertainment and education. Today, with climate change and habitat loss from development threatening the polar bear’s natural habitat, many zoos have added conservation to their mission, contributing to captive breeding programs and scientific research.

Austrian circus performer Mathilde Rupp (stage name Tilly Bébé) and her Polar Bears at Carl Hagenbeck’s Wonder Zoo in 1918.

The urge to be close to the wildness (fettered as it may be) that cannot be bred out of zoo polar bears, or perhaps a desire to better get to know these ursine celebrities, has caused numerous incidents at zoos. Such trespassing is not a recent phenomenon. In 1891, a female servant from Bavaria, Karoline Wolf, climbed down a rope into the Frankfurt Zoo’s bear pit—after undressing and neatly folding her clothes—in order to be “eaten alive by a white bear.” People will forever seek operatic ways to end their lives, but accidental zoo maulings are telling because of what these incidents reveal about attitudes toward the animal. In 1987, two polar bears at the Brooklyn Zoo dragged into their den and then killed eleven-year-old Juan Perez, who had entered the enclosure after hours on a dare. The boy thought the bears were slow and afraid of people and water. After invading their space, he provoked the female, throwing bottles and sticks. Police, who suspected that more kids were in danger, riddled both bears with shotgun slugs and pistol bullets.

On May 19, 1987, 11-year-old Juan Perez and two of his friends were visiting the Prospect Park Zoo in Brooklyn, New York, after the zoo had closed for the day.

The old animal magic, that attraction of people to bears, remains strong. Drawn like foxes to a bear kill, we take risks to breach barriers that once, long ago, did not exist. Juan Perez’s death and similar cases recall an Inuit boy’s test of courage and coming-of-age rite: his first polar bear kill. The crucial difference, of course, is the cultural context. Whereas Inuit children grew up listening to their elders, respecting the animal, observing bear habits and how bears are hunted, young Juan had never been inducted into the White Bear’s ways.

A Polar Bear riding a motorcycle circa 1960. (Photo by John Cuneo)

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We believe EVERY animal should be treated with respect, empathy, and understanding. We raise awareness to protect and conserve wild, captive, companion and farm animals.

It is vital that we protect animals against acts of cruelty, abuse, and neglect by enforcing established animal welfare laws and, when necessary, take action to ensure that those who abuse animals are brought to justice.

Protect All Wildlife are involved in many projects to protect animals’ rights, welfare, and habitats. Money contributed to Protect All Wildlife supports ALL of our worthy programmes and gives us the flexibility to respond to emerging needs. Your donations make our work possible.

“Empty Shell” (Brain Damage)

HAPPY THE ELEPHANT

I want my money back I came to see an Elephant I paid to see a conservation ambassador Inspire me to help conserve the species Especially her kind

I saw an empty shell

She looks like an Elephant But what is there to see, not Happy She is a poor teacher of Elephant lessons She is no solitary animal, but kept confined Like all captives, neurones scrambled, brain denied Stereotypy is not a dance – no, a pathetic trance A sign she can’t be happy in mind She’s not right in the head.

She is an empty shell

They have broken personalities All the Elephants with names, captive They are poor Elephant facsimiles They have the stature, the thick skin and bones They are devoid of Elephant spirit, truncated They are subjected to Floydian ‘Brain Damage’ They are all caught on the dark side (“‘As a matter of fact, it’s all dark’*) Cut off from the herd

They are empty shells

We pay the price to see: see the price they pay We fall for the old ‘conservation /education’ story We fail to see the oppression and the damage done We should be able to see for ourselves We could accept they are Sentients like us We could see them better in a sanctuary We could do the right thing Will we?

Collect all the empty shells

Put them back where they can refill Regain their freedom and society Be Elephants again, herd mentality That would be something to see Is it just a Zoological fantasy?

I find myself unhappy for Happy, again

If I find myself outside her enclosure (But I wouldn’t pay to go in anyway) Watching her sway song, groundhog days One day closer to her end of days Inspired to write yet another Happy poem Adding to ‘Not Happy’ ‘Personable’ ‘Elephant Stomp’ After the first setback of her legal person court case What would I do if I were you?

Might just as well go to a museum Pay to see a stuffed Elephant This one already is

I want my money back I came to see an Elephant Largest land animal, majestic Social fellow-sentient being Exemplary, salutary

I got an empty shell

*From ‘Brain Damage’ on the Pink Floyd album ‘Dark Side of the Moon’

**From ‘The Needle and the Damage Done’ by Neil Young

For all captive Elephants – Happy, Lucy, Shankar, The Fresno Elephants and so many more.

Written By Anthony Lovell.

What you can do to help wildlife:

Please Sign The Petition  To Free Happy From Her Imprisonment At The Bronx Zoo HERE!

Happy the Elephant had her day in court. We humans are better for it.

Support ‘Protect All Wildlife’ by donating as little as £1 – It only takes a minute but it can last a lifetime for an animal in need. Thank you.

We believe EVERY animal should be treated with respect, empathy, and understanding. We raise awareness to protect and conserve wild, captive, companion and farm animals. It is vital that we protect animals against acts of cruelty, abuse, and neglect by enforcing established animal welfare laws and, when necessary, take action to ensure that those who abuse animals are brought to justice.

Protect All Wildlife are involved in many projects to protect animals’ rights, welfare, and habitats. Money contributed to Protect All Wildlife supports ALL of our worthy programmes and gives us the flexibility to respond to emerging needs. Your donations make our work possible. Thank you for your support.

Everyone who donates will receive a Certificate of Appreciation as a thank you for supporting wildlife.

CERTIFICATE OF APPRECIATION

The Tragic Story Of Tyke The Circus Elephant: The Most Horrific Circus Death Ever!

20TH AUGUST 1994: THE DAY THAT TYKE THE ELEPHANT WAS SHOT 86 TIMES!

Mention “Tyke the Elephant” to anyone who lived in Honolulu 27 years ago and chances are they’ll shake their head and talk about what a dark moment it was in their city’s history.

Tyke was a wild-born African Elephant captured from the wild in Mozambique when just a baby. She was sold into the circus industry in the U.S. and for twenty years abused and exploited. Tyke was tortured during this time, forced to wear a degrading clown costume and dance for the audience, and even forced to ride a giant tricycle.

In August 1994, Tyke spent several days locked in the hull of a tanker ship on a long ocean journey from California to Hawaii. When they finally let her out she was immediately forced into performing in from of an audience. Unable to take the abuse any longer, she finally snapped. Tyke entered the ring at the Blaisdell Arena, kicking around what looked to audience members like a dummy. “We thought it was part of the show,” one witness told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser. They soon realized the supposed dummy was a severely injured groomer. Panicked, audience members fled for the exits. Tyke went on to fatally crush her trainer, who was trying to intervene, before fleeing the arena herself.

For nearly 30 minutes, Tyke ran through the streets of the Kakaako neighborhood’s business district at rush hour, nearly trampling circus promoter Steve Hirano when he tried to fence her in. It was a foot chase between her and the Honolulu police, who eventually shot her 86 times before she succumbed to nerve damage and brain haemorrhages. People watched aghast from their cars, apartments and the sidewalk.

Image result for tyke the elephant

Twenty seven years later, witnesses still remember it vividly, and the attitude in Honolulu toward animal-driven circuses is distrusting. No circus elephants have performed since Tyke, even though there is no prohibition against it.

In 2014, when the Moscow International Circus announced that it would perform in Honolulu with “wild animals”, activist group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals circulated a petition against it. A circus spokesman recently told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser that animals would be excluded from the shows, and PETA applauded the decision in a press release:

While the Tyke incident challenged people around the world to think about our relationship to circus animals, many circuses such as the Kelly Miller Circus, UniverSoul Circus, Cole Bros. Circus of the Stars and Carson & Barnes  still use exotic animals, including Elephants, in their shows today. Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus has only recently stopped using Elephants in their circus.

What can you do? PETA encourages you to avoid supporting any circus that includes animals and provides a list of animal-free circuses, as well as a list of things you can do if the circus comes to your town.

THE PETRIFIED LOOK OF FEAR

IF THIS VIDEO DOESN’T CONVINCE YOU THAT ANIMAL CIRCUSES ARE HELL!

THE HORRIFIC RAMPAGE OF TYKE, THE ELEPHANT WHO FINALLY COULDN’T TAKE ANY MORE
R.I.P. TYKE

What you can do to help animals in need:

Support ‘Protect All Wildlife’ by donating as little as £1 – It only takes a minute but it can last a lifetime for an animal in need. Thank you.

We believe EVERY animal should be treated with respect, empathy, and understanding. We raise awareness to protect and conserve wild, captive, companion and farm animals. It is vital that we protect animals against acts of cruelty, abuse, and neglect by enforcing established animal welfare laws and, when necessary, take action to ensure that those who abuse animals are brought to justice.

Protect All Wildlife are involved in many projects to protect animals’ rights, welfare, and habitats. Money contributed to Protect All Wildlife supports ALL of our worthy programmes and gives us the flexibility to respond to emerging needs. Your donations make our work possible. Thank you for your support