Channel 4 polar bear show draws heavy flak
Britain’s Channel 4 has drawn flak from TV viewers and animal rights
campaigners over the airing of a program that depicted the hunting down
and dissection of polar bears in the Arctic.
Animal rights groups have urged viewers to switch off the channel
saying the Channel 4 film-makers were glorifying the needless killing of
an iconic species and screening butchered polar bears as family
The program was titled ‘Polar Bear: Inside Nature’s Giants’.
The Daily Telegraph quoted an outraged spokesman for Animal Aid as
saying: “Do Channel Four viewers really want to see a polar bear being
hunted down and killed just so they can see his insides?”
“Local Inuits may hunt polar bears for food, but this program will do
nothing more than glorify the needless killing of an iconic species that
is in serious danger of becoming extinct.
“Scientists already know the dangers facing polar bears. So why are
they not using their talents to benefit these animals instead of simply
bringing gratuitously gory and sadistic images into our living rooms?”.
Jan Creamer, Chief Executive of Animal Defenders International, said:
“We are very concerned with the message that this program is pushing.
“Previous episodes have had presenters similarly dissecting
elephants, lions and tigers, and while the producers will inevitably
emphasise the educational role of such programs, there remain some
“We have reservations and doubts as to whether it is appropriate to
be displaying wild and inspirational animals in this manner and
endangered animals such as these should be treated with respect after
death, and not used for what is, essentially, audience entertainment.
“Polar bears are majestic wild creatures, and a powerful symbol of
the struggle to halt global warming. To have images of a polar bear’s
insides splayed out and pushed around on TV for all to see is pretty
vile and undermines them.
“We call on viewers to boycott the program and to write to Channel
Four to complain.”
The Inside Nature’s Giants team of experts joined Inuit hunters and
scientists studying these iconic creatures off the coast of Greenland
and set to work on freshly killed polar bears. A Channel 4 spokesman
said: “The program features the dissection of polar bears, killed as
part of a strict official quota by Inuit hunters in Greenland.
“The polar bears would have been killed whether filming was taking
place or not and no payments were made by the production team to the
hunters or the scientific team studying them.
“Inside Nature’s Giants is a Bafta award-winning series featuring a
team of experts, including Professor Richard Dawkins. The program aims
to reveal how this magnificent creature really works and the threats it
faces from man-made pollution and climate change.”
“The scientists need to collect blood and fresh tissue samples and
collaborate with local people who are permitted to hunt a small quota of
The hunting is strictly controlled, using traditional methods and
avoiding mothers with cubs,” the spokesman said. The Inside Nature’s
Giants experts joined the expedition to carry out a more extensive
anatomical dissection to explore some of the mysteries of the polar
bear, such as how they cope with such a high fat diet of seal blubber
without risking heart failure.