Polar bear killed after attacking cruise ship employee

Cristina Cross
July 30, 2018

An unidentified man was attacked and hurt by a polar bear on Norway's Arctic archipelago of Svalbard, newspaper Aftenposten reported Saturday.

A helicopter brought the injured guard to the nearby town of Longyearbyen on Spitsbergen island.

The polar bear was shot dead by another employee as it attacked their colleague.

The death of the bear at the hands of another cruise ship employee drew condemnation on social media, with some calling it "abhorrent" and others questioning killing the polar bear for "acting like a wild animal".

A photograph shows a polar bear lying lifeless on a beach; mouth slightly agape, a ring of blood on its neck.

The guard suffered non-life-threatening head injuries and was airlifted out, Hapag-Lloyd Cruises said in a statement on Facebook. "Customers need to start asking themselves if they feel good about a native bear being shot dead to enable their selfish intrusion into this handsome creature's home", wrote one upset poster.

On Saturday, the MS Bremen cruise ship landed on the island and polar bear guards went ashore to survey the land.

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The German cruise company said a second guard shot the bear "in self-defence".

She said all cruise ships traveling in the northern region are obliged to have polar bear guards on board. His condition has not been made available, but the spokeswoman said he was "responsive".

Reaction to the death of this polar bear has been swift.

"Let's get too close to a polar bear in its natural environment and then kill it if it gets too close". "Morons", British actor-comedian Ricky Gervais tweeted.

"Polar bears are only observed from aboard ships, from a safe distance", the company says.

This was not the first time a polar bear attack took place in Norway.

The area is a wilderness of glaciers and ice caps in the Arctic Circle and is home to around 3,000 polar bears. "Almost every year a polar bear is killed in Svalbard after confrontations with humans or because of safety perspective in the settlements".

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