Animal rights group PETA slams Nuremberg Zoo over polar bear cub
An animal rights group accuses zoo officials in the German city of Nuremberg of negligence and abuse in their treatment of a female polar bear and its newly born cub born around a month ago.
16th January 2008
Nuremberg (dpa) - Frank Albrecht, spokesman for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), said the zoo officials responsible should have sealed off the enclosure from the public when polar bear Vera and her as yet unnamed cub entered a critical phase.
He also said the zoo in the southern German city had informed the press prematurely of the birth of the cub, leading to greater stress.
The female cub, which is estimated to be around five weeks old, was removed from its mother for its own safety on January 8.
Mother Vera was seen acting nervously, tossing her head from side to side, according to Albrecht, who attributed this to the conditions the bears face in captivity.
"The animals express the close confines through their behaviour," he said.
Zoo Director Dag Encke rejected the allegations, saying Vera's behaviour had been caused by temporary stress, not serious psychological illness.
Last year Albrecht criticized the raising by hand of Knut, the polar bear cub born in Berlin Zoo.
The breeding of polar bears in zoos should be phased out, he said.
The new Nuremberg cub opened her eyes for the first time on Tuesday.
Zoo authorities are increasingly confident they will be able to raise the cub successfully, based on the experience gained by Berlin Zoo in rearing Knut, the star polar bear that recently turned 1.
An international competition is underway to find a name for the new cub, which has generated so much interest that the zoo's website has crashed repeatedly.
The same zoo came in for criticism last week when it allowed two other newly born cubs to die. They were apparently eaten by their mother, possibly after they had fallen ill.