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Polar Bear Uses a Stone to Shatter Its Zoo Enclosure (Video)

Polar Bear Uses a Stone to Shatter Its Zoo Enclosure (Video)

By Stephen Messenger

Zoos are designed to give visitors a glimpse at some of the planet’s most majestic a fearsome creatures, viewed from a safe distance and from behind protective barriers. But in a recent incident, caught on film at a facility in the Netherlands, that sense of security (among other things) was quite unexpectedly shattered.

In a YouTube clip provided by Dutch news source Diergaarde Blijdorp, a polar bear at the Rotterdam Zoo can be observed carrying a large stone from the bottom of its enclosure and heaving it against the glass walls of the tank. For the two men seen talking in the video, their close proximately to that iconic arctic predator doesn’t seem to sink in until the animal’s rock-tossing efforts finally make a breakthrough, causing the glass to fracture.

Officials say that the polar bear had only broken the first of five layers of glass, yet that was clearly enough to humble these two on-camera zoo guests, who before seemed rather uninterested in the powerful animal in their midst.

It is, of course, impossible to say for certain if the polar bear was merely playing with rocks, or had cast the stone with liberating intent from within that glass house — but it certainly wouldn’t be the first time a captive animal tried to break out of captivity.

Although monkeys are usually the most prone to dramatic break-outs, bears have proven quite successful at their bids for freedom too. Earlier this year, a bear captured in Alaska bound for a European zoo made a daring escape, back into the wild, when its keepers temporarily turned off an electric fence.

This scene, like so many others, inevitably raises the question as to whether it is ethical to keep otherwise wild animals confined — particularly when they just might be doing their very best to escape.

This post originally appeared on Treehugger.

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Photo credit: ThePitcher

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201 comments

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11:27PM PDT on Jul 6, 2012

Zoos are CRUEL. Period. Only the ignorant attend them. Zoos need to be fazed out completely and only animal sanctuaries for animals in need where they are LEFT ALONE. This breaks my heart and I wish that bear would have broken that glass and washed those two nuckleheads right out the door!

11:27PM PDT on Jul 6, 2012

Zoos are CRUEL. Period. Only the ignorant attend them. Zoos need to be fazed out completely and only animal sanctuaries for animals in need where they are LEFT ALONE. This breaks my heart and I wish that bear would have broken that glass and washed those two nuckleheads right out the door!

9:43AM PDT on Jun 26, 2012

There needs to be some zoo reform. They should be more like natural sanctuaries than sad cagey zoos.

5:12AM PDT on Jun 21, 2012

The bear's reaction is no surprise, who would be happy to live all life in a cage like in jail?

5:11AM PDT on Jun 21, 2012

The bear's reaction is no surprise, who would be happy to live all life in a cage like in jail?

5:11AM PDT on Jun 21, 2012

The bear's reaction is no surprise, who would be happy to live all life in a cage like in jail?

1:59AM PDT on Jun 17, 2012

FREE HIM!

5:34AM PDT on Jun 15, 2012

As Yogi Bear would say, "I'm smarter than the average bear."

5:12AM PDT on Jun 15, 2012

thanks for sharing

5:28AM PDT on Jun 12, 2012

The sad fact is that animals in the best practice zoos are usually safer and live a better life than many of their fellow species in the wild. However in an ideal world I would vote for the abolition of zoos and increase the number of sanctuaries for the unfortunate animals wh,o for what ever reason, are unable to live in or be returned to the wild.

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Lindsay Spangler Lindsay Spangler is a Web Editor and Producer for Care2 Causes. A recent UCLA graduate, she lives in... more
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