Outcry Over SeaWorld Plan to Ship Polar Bear to Pittsburgh

PETA Urges Company Not to Separate Bonded Bears in Captive-Breeding Ploy

For Immediate Release:
February 2, 2017

Contact:
David Perle 202-483-7382

Based on a tip from a concerned marine-mammal expert, PETA has sent a letter to SeaWorld asking that it cancel any plans to send Snowflake the polar bear from San Diego to the Pittsburgh Zoo in order to breed her for commercial purposes. In the letter, PETA notes that the move would leave Szenja, the polar bear who has lived with Snowflake since 1997, without any companionship of her own species and would likely cause her to feel heartbroken. The plan would also sentence any resulting baby polar bears to a miserable existence inside cramped enclosures that are one-millionth the size of their minimum home range in the wild.

“At a time when Ringling Bros. is shutting down and SeaWorld itself has had to stop breeding orcas, how can the company not see that the public is against separating polar bears for commercial purposes?” asks PETA Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman. “PETA reminds SeaWorld that these animals have lived together for 20 years and that using them to produce offspring who will languish in tiny cells is unacceptable.”

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment”—notes that according to sources, SeaWorld San Diego is unable to obtain polar bears from the wild, because neither Canada nor Alaska will give the park any orphaned cubs: The company reportedly doesn’t meet minimum standards prescribed by internationally recognized polar bear conservation laws. The Pittsburgh Zoo, meanwhile, dropped its Association of Zoos and Aquariums accreditation in 2015 because it refused to comply with the organization’s requirements for the safe handling of elephants.

For more information, please visit PETA.org.

PETA’s letter to SeaWorld CEO Joel Manby follows.

February 2, 2017

Joel Manby

CEO

SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment

Dear Mr. Manby,

PETA has been informed that SeaWorld is planning to move Snowflake, one of the two polar bears at SeaWorld San Diego, to the Pittsburgh Zoo for breeding. We urge you to cancel this cruel plan, which would leave Snowflake’s companion of 20 years, Szenja, sad and alone and would also sentence any cubs who are born subsequently to a lifetime of confinement for public display.

As you must know, polar bears can swim hundreds of miles between ice floes, and their home ranges can measure tens of thousands of square miles. In captivity, they are confined to enclosures about one-millionth the size of the area in which they would naturally roam. It’s no wonder that these intelligent and athletic animals fare especially poorly in captivity. Some captive polar bears are so psychologically distressed that they spend up to 25 percent of their day pacing back and forth in their tiny prison cells. If Snowflake’s babies survive—which is a long shot, given the 65 percent infant-mortality rate for captive polar bears—this is the bleak future that awaits them.

And since the Pittsburgh Zoo is no longer accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, there’s no telling what type of conditions the animals will be kept in. In November, the facility was cited for critical noncompliance with the federal Animal Welfare Act when a bat enclosure flooded, killing 36 bats.

At a time when Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus has announced that it will close and you have recognized that your orca-breeding program must end because of public outrage, it has never been clearer that people do not support keeping animals in captivity and using them for entertainment. Snowflake and Szenja have already been deprived of everything that’s natural and important to them—please do not add to their suffering and sentence more polar bears to a dismal fate by moving forward with this ill-conceived plan.

Very truly yours,

Ingrid E. Newkirk

President

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 Ingrid E. Newkirk

“Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights?” READ MORE

— Ingrid E. Newkirk, PETA President and co-author of Animalkind