There’s outrage around the world after a cruise ship guard shot and killed a polar bear during a scheduled stop.
Hapag-Lloyd Cruises frequently make stops on Spitsbergen Island, in the Svalbard archipelago a few hundred miles north of Norway.
Employees of the MS Bremen were ensuring a safe area for tourists to come onto the island, when one of them was attacked by a polar bear. To protect the injured employee, a cruise ship guard shot and killed the bear. Typically, firearms are only used by the guards to shoot into the air to scare off any bears that may be approaching. Though, it now makes you question the wisdom of bringing tourists to the habitat of a vulnerable species in the first place.
The guard who was attacked suffered head injuries and is now in stable condition. The Germany-based cruise line released a lengthy statement about the incident on Facebook.
It reads, in part: “We very much regret this incident. Hapag-Lloyd Cruises is very aware of its responsibility when travelling in environmentally-sensitive areas and respects all nature and wildlife.” They also emphasized that the Svalbard Islands are a massive land area about 50% bigger than Denmark, and that tourists disembarking the cruise ship are not doing so to see wildlife.
The company wrote: “Landings are possible only in a few places; these are not there to serve the purpose of polar bear observation, on the contrary: polar bears are only observed from aboard ships, from a safe distance.”
That being said, it’s known that this area has polar bears, and that’s likely one of the selling points of taking a cruise to the freaking North Pole. So animal rights activists and animal lovers in general are really upset.
Even though they say they regret the incident, Hapag-Lloyd and other cruise lines have no plan to stop docking in the area. Port schedules show that 18 cruise ships will be docking in that same spot this week alone.
What do you think? Should cruise ships stop docking there, or should we just accept that polar bears are going to get shot from time to time? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter at @WhatsTrending.