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Controversy swirls around the viral video of the hungry polar bear

An image of the emaciated polar bear

(SEALEGACY / SUITABLE NEWS)

A video of a hungry polar bear recently went viral, tugging at viewers’ heartstrings as the emaciated creature makes its way across an iceless wasteland. Some experts, however, say that the video, which was seen by millions of people can not all what it seems.

National Geographic photographer Paul Nicklen and filmmakers of the environmental organization Sea Legacy saw the bear on the Baffin Islands in Canada at the end of August.

The bear is seen rummaging through a trash can in the video, which is held as an illustration of the effects of climate change. “As temperatures rise and sea ice melts, polar bears lose access to the main staple of their diet — seals,” the video explains.

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However, Nunavut polar bear monitor Leo Ikakhik told CBC that he was not surprised by the eyes of the hungry bear in the video. “Everyone was probably shocked to see a really skinny bear, but this is not my first time seeing something like this,” he told Carol Off, host of CBC’s radio show “As It Happens.”

A video of the hungry polar bear has gone viral

(SEALEGACY / SUITABLE NEWS)

Ikakhik, which has been monitoring polar bear activity since 2010, said that the polar bear in the video may have been sick or are recovering from an injury who are not able to hunt. “I wouldn’t really blame the climate change. It is simply a part of the animal, what they go through.”

The possibility that the polar bear was sick or the elderly was also discussed in an article in the canadian National Post.

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Sea Heritage co-founder Cristina Mittermeier told “As it Happens”, that, although the precise reasons for the bear is unknown, and she hopes that the video prompted discussion about how the consequences of climate change and wild animals.

With the viral video sparks debate, National Geographic posted an article with the title “Your Questions About Our Hungry polar bear Video Said,” on the website Tuesday.

The article notes that, as a whole, polar bear populations around the world are not in danger. However, under the statement of Steven Amstrup, chief scientist for Polar Bears International, National Geographic reports that “some of the polar bears most at risk of the extinction of the population lives in regions that have seasonal ice, like that around the far north of Baffin Island, where the hungry bear was filmed.”

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“If the temperature is warm, seasonal sea-ice is melting earlier and come back later. This extends the time that polar bears must survive on fat alone, ” the article explains. “The arctic sea ice covers approximately one million square fewer miles than in 1979. The vast majority of scientists agree that the melting of sea ice has accelerated beyond the normal rate in the past few decades. The Arctic is one of the regions most affected by the warming of the climate.”

In a blog post, Amstrup noted that the climate change may not be the most important factor that contributes to the sad demise of the polar bear in the video.

“We can’t say, the footage captured here, that this beer malnutrition was caused by the global warming and its associated sea-ice loss,” he wrote. “Polar bears have few natural enemies. Although they normally live a long time, they are not immortal. All eventually die, and most do so because they have not been able to capture and enough to eat. This means that malnutrition is a major cause of death for polar bears.”

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However, climate change is a real threat to polar bear populations, Amstrup added. “Despite the uncertainties about how this beer got in the starved state, we can be sure of if we allow the world to continue to warm, there are ever greater numbers of events such as the survival rates drop more and more of the polar bear range,” Amstrup said. “And we can be sure of that without stopping greenhouse gas rise, the world’s polar bears will gradually disappear.”

Follow James Rogers on Twitter @jamesjrogers

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