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Sunday, 3 July 2011

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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 entertainment.

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 uncomfortable questions.

“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.”

Iconic creatures

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 bears.

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.

 

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