Sunday, March 20, 2011

Knut ist tot!

No, this isn't a new natural disaster: volcanic eruptions are the only thing it seems we haven't had for a while - apart from that one in Hawaii, but it's more of a tourist attraction than a danger. And so is this: a sub-sub-Disneyland pretend volcano at Sea World on the Gold Coast in Queensland, which I thought about today not because Prince William is in Qld on the second-to-last leg of his own disaster tour (Pike River, Christchurch, Queensland and Victoria - not very jolly for a man who's mere weeks away from his wedding), but because Knut has died.

Germany will be in mourning again - so soon after Paul the Octopus! It's a tough time for them. Knut of course is the polar bear cub that spawned a million soft toys and made a fortune for Berlin Zoo when he was little and cute. Then he got big and fierce and had to give up the rough and tumble with his keeper - and now, aged only 4, he's died: a very sad picture, floating lifeless in his pool.

Sea World on Queensland's Gold Coast has polar bears too. And though they have air conditioning and cooled water and ice cubes to play with and all, I think it's a scandal to have polar bears in a tropical setting. (It was bad enough in Lost.) And it's an even worse scandal to have polar bears in an enclosure at all, when they should be ranging freely across snowy wastes and chasing seals. And battling the loss of sea-ice... Well, that's a different sort of scandal.

But Sea World? Not recommended. They have a captive dugong; and a dolphin show too, where people ride them like living surf boards. And performing seals. It's just wrong - and so behind the times. It's pretty unsurprising, then, that their big show is a 1960s waterski effort with beehive hair-dos and gold cloaks. Tacky. Don't go.
Yeah, this photo again. This is how it should be: free bear scaring the heebie jeebies out of people squashed into a small container, totally out of their own habitat.

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