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Polar bear and zoos remains a controversial combination

Dr Jake Veasey

Apr 13, 2023

Care for the Rare's AWPIS assessment on polar bears has reignited the debate on the future of polar bears in captivity. The Born Free Foundation's report on polar bears in zoos drew heavily on the finding of our assessment but came to very different conclusions than we did, find out why.

Born Free's recent report on polar bears draws heavily upon Care for the Rare's assessment of the needs of this sensitive species, and while I don't agree with Born Free's conclusions, I welcome the report and the debate; it's always healthy to consider views that might not align with your own.

Polar bears are the archetypal double-jeopardy species; they face seemingly insoluble existential threats in the wild, and in captivity, they are the most stereotypic of all carnivore species, posing an ethical dilemma for anyone who cares about species and individuals. Thankfully, the scale of habitats has improved in recent years; in the UK for example, the average habitat has increased twentyfold since the 1990s, but it's time to truly embrace the psychological priorities of this species and be much more considered in how we cater for those needs, rockwork, a field, and a pool just won't cut it.

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