Posted by: travelrat | April 27, 2011

Aren’t Polar Bears White?

Surfers’ Paradise: 6th August 2010

Seaworld, to whom the ‘Spirit of Migloo’ belongs is a mix of aquarium and theme park that just about gets it right. Some of the rides and attractions were closed for refurbishment, or, indeed, were in the process of being built. They have to do that to ensure repeat visits. Although seeing fish and marine mammals just doing what they normally do is interesting, if you see them once, that’s it. But, if there’s something new to see and do …

The sea-lion show and the pirate show are maybe a bit Disneyesque, but I’d think they need that kind of thing to get people in, then, hopefully, inform them as well as entertain them. And, while I don’t normally like to see animals being made to ‘perform’, I don’t think those sea-lions and dolphins are made to do anything they wouldn’t do in the wild.

And, the money raised goes to a good cause; Seaworld’s primary reason for existence … marine conservation.

Of course, there’s an opportunity to see dolphins, rays and even sharks from close quarters; the sharks can be viewed from an underground viewing area. And, that’s about as close as you can get without actually going out to sea and diving.

I think the only aspect that really left a bad taste was the polar bear.

‘I thought polar bears were white?’ I said. It was explained that, when there was no snow around, the bears would roll in the dirt, to make better camouflage. But, I wondered if the bear should be there at all. It’s not really a marine mammal, and I’d have thought the Queensland climate would be about as far away from its normal Arctic environment as it’s possible to get.

But, maybe I’m wrong; I am, after all, no zoologist. But, I think I’d have been happier to have been told that the measures taken to ensure the bear ‘felt at home’ were adequate.

I’m not going to list a catalogue of what we saw. In the coming weeks, I shall put up a slide show and a video, and do the same thing with Australia Zoo, which we’re visiting next.


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  1. Hi Keith,
    Great photos, but you really have to love the brown polar bear, that is extraordinary. I agree without change you would certainly loose some customers that would just get a bit tired of seeing the same thing over and over again.

    They do wonderful work, and have helped countless marine animals, and got them back to health and back into the open sea. Some schools also do excursions there as well, to learn different aspects of Marine Life.

    From Wikipedia:- Habitat
    “The polar bear is often regarded as a marine mammal because it spends many months of the year at sea.”

    I loved your article about the Tapas, very good, and the photos you put with it was great, a really interesting read.

  2. I wonder about the polar bear too. I bet he longs for snow. Seems a little sad, really. I am sure he’s very well looked after, though. It really is encouraging that SeaWorld does so much for marine conservation. Good on them!

    • Well, the bear looked healthy enough … I guess I was thinking of the poor wretched creature I saw at a zoo in England in the 70s; just pacing around its cage, swaying from side to side.

      I did report it to the RSPCA; the lady I spoke to agreed something was seriously wrong, but I don’t know the final outcome as the kids (8 and 5 at the time) were so distressed, I never went there again.

      Wouldn’t happen nowadays, though … they’d have Virginia MacKenna or somebody down on them like a ton of wet concrete!

  3. I get the whole zoo concept but I often wonder if animals are in zoos for our entertainment rather than the animal’s well-being. Why does the San Diego zoo have a penguin exhibit? Why does the zoo in Little Rock have camels? Do pandas and cheetahs really feel at home in Washington, DC? Probably not but if the animal is born in the zoo… does it know or even care what its natural habitat is?

    Wow. Sure am being philosophical today. Must be due to the chocolate and peanut butter I had for breakfast.

    • I think, from the earliest days, the ‘Zoological Gardens’, although established with the best of motives, relied on the entrance fees of the general public to finance their work. And, the general public demanded ever more exotic creatures, and wanted them to ‘do tricks’.

      And, a lot of animals were kept in unsuitable (sometimes, downright squalid) conditions.

      That’s been largely stamped out in this country, thanks to the efforts of the likes of actress Virginia McKenna, and the ‘Born Free’ Foundation. Also, the wildlife documentaris of David Attenborough and Gerald Durrell … the founder of Jersey Zoo, probably the first in UK to keep animals in something like their natural surroundings.

      (animal is born in the zoo… does it know or even care what its natural habitat is?) Unfortunately, my article about Marwell Zoo, and its part in the scheme to re-introduce Takhi Horses to Mongolia, where they are extinct in the wild is in print only, so I can’t give you a link. That’s just one instance of a zoo-reared animal being acclimatised to the wild.

      (Sorry about the soap-box … but zoos are doing valuable work, in spite of their sometimes trivial appearances)

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