As you’re doubtless aware, and as we’ve been reporting, the BBC’s hit nature show Frozen Planet has found itself at the centre of a row after airing footage of a polar bear in captivity giving birth.
The to-ing and fro-ing as to the ethics of the scene – given viewers weren’t told that the footage wasn’t filmed in the wild – has been rumbling on for days, but today, the Daily Mirror has revealed that the only surviving cub from that footage is now in a zoo in Scotland.
Named Walker, the cub viewers saw born on Frozen Planet is now three years old and one of the main attractions at the Highlands Wildlife Park at Kincraig, Inverness-shire.
The paper reports that last week, Walker celebrated his birthday with a cake made of ice packed with fruit and veg. Yummo…
Walker’s mum, Huggies – so named after the nappy company who sponsored her upkeep – gave birth to him and two siblings at the Ouwehands wildlife park in Germany on December 7, 2008.
One cub was stillborn, and another male cub, called Swimmer, died from a bacterial infection just three months later.
Yesterday, Douglas Richardson, a representative of the Highland Wildlife Park, told the paper, “Walker is an extremely happy and well-loved bear. He has a playful and outgoing personality and delights visitors on a daily basis.”
And as to Huggies, well, she’s now in a Dutch zoo, and has apparently recently given birth to two more cubs.
Of the debacle surrounding the Frozen Planet footage, Jose Kok of the Ouwehands park said, “We were delighted they [the BBC] used our park.”
Also yesterday, the BBC’s director general Mark Thompson defended the footage taken in captivity, and reiterated that the narration for that segment of the episode would not be re-recorded to inform viewers of where filming took place.
He added that viewers don’t want “to be reminded constantly about how the programme was made as it goes along”.
I have to say, I agree entirely with Mr Thompson. I really don’t think it was necessary to point out where exactly the filming took place. The spirit of the thing was the magical moment the cubs were born, so the where of it didn’t matter to me.
What are your thoughts on the issue?
In the meantime, here’s a clip recorded by a visitor to the Scottish zoo, showing Walker having a high old time in his enclosure…