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Published on Monday, July 30, 2018

Cruise line suffers social media backlash over shooting of polar bear

Hapag-Lloyd Cruises has received global criticism after a polar bear was shot dead by one of its guards in the Arctic Circle.

The cruise line's 155-passenger ship Bremen was preparing for a trip ashore in Spitsbergen when a guard shot the bear in 'self defence' on Saturday.

Many people have taken to social media to express their feelings, including comedian Ricky Gervais, who tweeted: "'Let's get too close to a polar bear in its natural environment and then kill it if it gets too close." Morons."

In a statement on its Facebook page, Hapag-Lloyd said it regretted the incident, explaining the endangered animal was shot after one of its polar bear guards was attacked.

After the other three guards unsuccessfully tried to 'evict' the animal, one guard shot and killed it.

His injured colleague was taken to hospital, where he was later described as 'stable and responsive'.

The statement said: "In an act of self-defence, unfortunately, it was necessary for the polar bear to be shot dead.

"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."

Hapag-Lloyd explained: "To prepare for a shore leave, the polar bear guards go ashore in advance after sighting the landing site as a group and without passengers. They then set up a land station and check the area again to make sure that there are no polar bears in sight. As soon as such an animal approaches, the shore leave would be stopped immediately.

"The incident occurred when the four-person polar bear guard team, who are always on board for these expedition cruises as required by law, prepared for a shore leave. One of the guards was unexpectedly attacked by a polar bear that had not been spotted and he was unable to react himself.

"As the attempts of the other guards to evict the animal, unfortunately, were not successful, there had to be intervention for reasons of self-defense and to protect the life of the attacked person.

"The injured person was immediately provided with medical care and flown to a hospital with a rescue helicopter. We are in personal, direct contact with him. His condition is stable and he remains responsive."

The cruiseline added: "We are extremely sorry that this incident has happened."

The shooting has attracted comments on social media from around the globe, including one that described the company as: "Despicable. Selfish. Money-minded."

Another said: "Shame on you! Get out of the Arctic," while another posted: "Please do not operate any cruises to the Arctic anymore. It's their home not yours."





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