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Captivity may save polar bears from global warming

A group of scientists, animal activists, lawmakers and zoo officials are proposing what seems like a radical solution to the rapidly declining population of polar bears in the arctic - bring more into captivity, The Philadelphia Inquirer reports.

Because global warming is heating the Arctic twice as fast as lower latitudes. experts are estimating that Arctic summer sea ice could disappear as soon as 2030, making the distances polar bears have to swim to get to land increasingly long, The Washington Post reports.

By keeping more polar bears in captivity, some people think they can help maintain the endangered species' genetic diversity if the wild population drops to extreme levels. The proposal is being backed by animal activists.

"If you don't build these insurance populations when you have the animals, then it's too late," the Toledo Zoo's mammals curator Randi Meyerson, chairman of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums' polar bear species survival program, told the news outlet. "We're planning for something we hope we don't need."

However, some people worry about the logistics and ethics of keeping these large mammals in captivity. Ronald Sandler, associate professor of philosophy at Northeastern University and director of the university’s Ethics Institute, told the source that polar bears may be one of the worst candidates for such a program. Sandler reports this is because there is no way they could live out the same life they would in the wild where they roam for miles.
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