Scandalous and Cruel: Incest at Berlin Zoo
Many folks can’t help shaking their hips to Kissin’ Cousins, but when it comes to breeding imprisoned polar bears who share the same grandfather, you can be sure that our friends at PETA Germany will only be shaking their protest signs.
Here’s the situation: Do you remember Knut? If not, you’re not alone. A few years ago, there were several months when it seemed like everybody and his, er, cousin was talking about the Berlin Zoo’s adorable baby polar bear. PETA Europe, in particular, protested the zoo’s plan to hand-rear him. The baby was paraded for throngs of media and zoo visitors, but once he grew up, audiences’ excitement and interest in the bear began to wane.
Well, now Knut is sharing his quarters with another polar bear named Giovanna, who is his cousin, and PETA Germany is calling for Knut to be castrated. To breed any polar bear in captivity perpetuates a life full of misery for animals who are roving predators with an instinct to roam and hunt. And in this situation, according to Frank Albrecht, an expert in captive animal welfare, if Knut and Giovanna were to have any offspring, it could threaten the genetic diversity of Germany’s polar bear population, and the new bears could be susceptible to a condition known as “incest depression.” (As if captive animals aren’t depressed and frustrated enough already …)
Giovanna was moved to the problematic Berlin Zoo last year when construction work began on her own den in Munich. (Of course, the 64,000-Euro question is whether Giovanna will stay with Knut or be shuffled back to Munich.) There’s no denying that Knut and Giovanna seem to enjoy each other’s company, but allowing the two cousins to mate with each other (or with any other bears for that matter) would be irresponsible and cruel. Albrecht notes, “Knut fans need to know that only Knut’s castration would allow a long life together with Giovanna.”
So, tell us what you think:
Written by Karin Bennett