From Germany, particularly known for its history of humane treatment for other people:
'We want this baby polar bear dead' say animal rights lobby
By ALLAN HALL - More by this author » Last updated at 16:03pm on 20th March 2007
Tiny, fluffy and adorable, Knut the baby polar bear became an animal superstar after he was abandoned by his mother.
He rapidly became the symbol of Berlin Zoo, whose staff bottle-fed him and handed out cuddles in between
At three months old, however, the playful 19lb bundle of fur is at the centre of an impassioned debate over whether he should live or die.
Animal rights activists argue that he should be given a lethal injection rather than brought up suffering the humiliation of being treated as a domestic pet.
"The zoo must kill the bear," said spokesman Frank Albrecht. "Feeding by hand is not species-appropriate but a gross violation of animal protection laws."
When Knut was born in December, his mother ignored him and his brother, who died. Zoo officials intervened, choosing to raise the cub themselves.
But Albrecht and other activists fret that it is inappropriate for a predator, known for its fierceness and ability to fend for itself in the wild, to be snuggled, bottle-fed and made into a commodity by zookeepers.
They argue that current treatment of the cub is inhumane and could cause him future difficulties interacting with fellow polar bears. "They cannot domesticate a wild animal," added Ruediger Schmiedel, head of the Foundation for Bears.
The charity cites a similar case of a baby sloth which was put to sleep after being abandoned by its mother last December in the Leipzig city zoo.
But Berlin Zoo holds different opinions. Its chief vet Andre Schuele says the activists' criticisms would make him angry if he could take them seriously. "Polar bears live alone in the wild. I see no logical reason why this bear should be killed."
Schuele also argued that given the increased rarity of wild polar bears, it makes sense to keep them alive in captivity so that they can be bred. "Polar bears are under threat of extinction, and if we feed the bear with a bottle, it has a good chance of growing up and perhaps becoming attractive as a stud for other zoos," he said.
Knut, who recently made the official A-list when he was pictured by celebrity photographer Annie Leibovitz for an environmental protection campaign, is scheduled to make his public debut at the zoo in the next few days.
Of course, it's not that the Berlin Zoo is being inhumane towards the polar bear - it's that it's being too humane - that has the animal rights whackos ticked off.
The fact that this is evening getting serious debate and coverage in the press tells me that the world is truly messed up.
Hmmmm, I wonder what the animal rights activists would say if a wealthy German would agree to take little Knut off their hands and make him into a nice mini-rug for the fireplace.
ARC: St Wendeler