Thursday 22 March 2018

Baby bear euthanised by Swiss zoo amid public outrage will now be stuffed and displayed to teach children 'nature can be very cruel'

The cub was rejected by its mother and father in tragic circumstances earlier this year
The cub was rejected by its mother and father in tragic circumstances earlier this year

Adam Withnall

A Swiss zoo which caused a public outcry by euthanising a healthy baby brown bear because it was being bullied by its father has said the cub will now be preserved and displayed to educate schoolchildren.

The bear, known only as "Cub Four", was put down after 360kg male bear Misha killed its sibling because he was jealous of the attention they were receiving from mother Masha, zoo staff said at the time.

In the wild, female bears normally protect their young by driving away the father after giving birth, and Swiss animal protection groups slammed the zoo for keeping them in the same enclosure.

But now staff at the Dählhölzli Zoo in Bern say the stuffed corpse of Cub Four will be used to teach visitors that "nature can be very cruel", The Local reported.

Yesterday a taxidermist began preserving the cub's fur, which will then be glued onto an artificial model the shape of its body. The whole process will be completed by the beginning of autumn, and is being overseen by Bern's Natural History Museum.

Once complete, the Cub Four display will include information about the circumstances of the young animal's death, which the zoo maintains was unavoidable because separating Misha and Masha would have caused them to suffer "massive behavioural disorders".

Doris Slezak, head of the zoo's educational department, told The Local: "We want to teach children about bears and other animals and we will use the material for that. Of course with this bear people will ask questions and we will tell the story [of what happened] but it’s not the main focus."

She said that while Dählhölzli expected some criticism from the public for its decision to display Cub Four's remains, it would not shy away from the issue at hand.

"It’s part of the story, it’s part of the life of this little bear and it should not be hidden," Slezak said. "It should be retold, if it’s possible.

"Nature can be very cruel and that’s something we want to show kids. We think that it’s right that this bear still has a function after his death, and it will help people to understand nature."

Since the furore around the incident with the two cubs in April, the father Misha has been sterilised to prevent further breeding.

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