The polar bear

Polar bear population on a decline

Rising temperatures that melt sea ice in the Arctic will probably reduce the polar bear population by a third over the next few decades, and the same warming trend is likely to worsen the decline of wild reindeer, scientists said. The new findings by university and government researchers were presented as part of a panel discussion about climate impacts on wildlife during a meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco. The presentation was streamed live on the internet. The polar bear research is drawn from new satellite data documenting a loss of Arctic sea ice — the animal’s chief habitat — from 1979 to 2015, and forming the basis of projections in further declines of both ice and bears over the coming decades. Polar bears currently number about 26,000, but their population is expected to diminish by some 8,600 animals over the next 35 to 40 years, the scientists said. At the time polar bears were declared a threatened species in 2008, one study predicted they could vanish from two-thirds of their native range by mid-century.
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The saddest polar bears in the world

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In a shopping mall in southern China, a polar bear named Pizza paces past murals of icebergs in his glass enclosure. He shakes his shaggy head under artificial lights. He crouches by an air vent to sniff the outside world. All polar bears are distress behaviours, say Chinese animal welfare advocates, who called on Zhu Xiaodan, the governor of Guangdong province, where Pizza lives in an aquarium at the Grandview Mall in Guangzhou, to move the bear to a more appropriate environment. Pizza has become known as “the world’s saddest polar bear”, the advocates, from 48 organisations, wrote in an open letter to Zhu.

They added that they hoped “the Guangdong government would close Grandview Polar Sea World!”

Hundreds of animals are housed in small enclosures over several floors of the mall, including arctic wolves and beluga whales. They share the retail emporium with an electronic games arcade for children, a 3-D movie theatre, a supermarket and leading domestic and international clothing brands. Escalators in an atrium run past signs advertising Swarovski and Estée Lauder products, noodle restaurants and coffee shops.

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