Several U.S. zoos promote taking in orphaned polar bear cubs from Canada not just as a humanitarian act but as a way to save the species from an increasingly warming Arctic climate [“Captivity: A cold calculation to save polar bears,” front page, March 26].
While saving cubs makes sense, it’s unlikely to result in long-term conservation benefits for polar bears. In fact, it has the potential to undermine conservation, since the Marine Mammal Protection Act would have to be amended to allow their import. The trophy-hunting lobby is anxiously eyeing this opportunity, so that it can import more sport-hunted polar bear trophies. So the net effect of opening up the act to amendments might ultimately be the killing of more bears.
Regarding the keeping of polar bears in captive settings, there is an additional problem: The animals typically fare poorly in captivity. Accredited zoos have a role to play in educating the public about climate change and the plight of polar bears. They should concentrate on protecting the species in the wild, because that’s truly its only long-term hope.
Naomi Rose, Fairfax
The writer is the senior scientist for Humane Society International.