Swiss Zoo Kills Baby Bear and Plans to Stuff It To Teach Children That ‘Nature Can Be Cruel’

| by Lisa Fogarty

A zoo in Switzerland reportedly euthanized a baby cub that had been neglected by its parents and now plans to stuff it and display it in order to teach children the lesson that “nature can be cruel,” reports CNN.

Workers at the Dahlholzi Zoo in Bern noticed that "Cub 4," how the baby brown bear is known, was in danger of being hurt or killed by his own parents and that they made the choice in April to put him down for his own good. Misha, the cub’s father, had reportedly killed one of Cub 4’s siblings and was “roughing up” the baby, and his mother Masha had started neglecting her child.

At first, the zoo says its intention was not to interfere with nature and impose a mercy killing, but rather let Cub 4’s parents do whatever they wanted to its offspring. That decision was overturned, though, and the baby bear was euthanized, while Misha was sterilized to prevent him from reproducing, reports The Independent.

A taxidermist began preserving Cub 4’s fur yesterday, and the plan is to glue it onto an artificial model of the animal’s body and display it at the zoo for educational purposes. The project, which is being overseen by Bern’s Natural History Museum, is expected to be completed this fall.

The display will include information about the bear’s death, and zoo officials are hopeful it will get the message across that what happened was just part of the life cycle of this bear and that this is a story that needs to be told.

“Nature can be very cruel, and that’s something we want to show kids,” said Doris Slezak, head of the zoo’s educational department. “We think that it’s right that this bear still has a function after its death, and it will help people to understand nature.”

But the zoo’s actions have sparked debate among animal activists, who argue Cub 4’s parents were raised by humans and that their cub should have enjoyed the same treatment. Some suggest the zoo created this problem between the baby bear and its parents.

“Bears are loners and need room, and in zoos, there are already too many brown bears,” said Sara Wehrli, head of the Wild Animal Department of Swiss Animal Protection. “Letting the two get pregnant was wrong. You can’t leave wild animals in captivity to ‘nature.’ Whoever keeps them must take responsibility for them.”

Sources: CNN, The Independent