Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Captivity could help polar bears survive global warming assault, some zoos say...They would have a better chance if Humans Stopped Killing Them

Polar bears are ideally suited to life in the Arctic: Their hair is without pigment, blending in with the snow; their heavy, strongly curved claws allow them to clamber over blocks of ice and snow and grip their prey securely; and their rough pads keep them from slipping.

The one thing they cannot survive is the disintegration of the ice. They range across the sea ice far from shore to hunt fatty seals, whose blubber sustains them.

Heat-trapping greenhouse gas emissions caused by burning fossil fuel are making the Arctic warm twice as fast as lower latitudes, and Arctic summer sea ice could disappear by 2030, according to climate models.

So a group of activists, zoo officials, lawmakers and scientists have a radical proposal: Increase the number of polar bears in U.S. zoos to help maintain the species’ genetic diversity if the wild population plummets. Read More