From Iceland — Polar Bear Idea Creates Controversy

Polar Bear Idea Creates Controversy

Published June 7, 2010

Incoming mayor Jón Gnarr has long advocated the idea of adding a polar bear to the Reykjavík Zoo, but it has been pointed out that the money needed could be put to better use.
Tómas Óskar Guðjónsson, director of the zoo, told Vísir that he likes the idea, but that it will cost about 250 million ISK to get a polar bear into the zoo. This is apart from the costs for care and upkeep. Tómas, for his part, has other ideas for the zoo that he’d like to see taken care of first, but feels a polar bear would be a fine addition to the zoo.
However, Margrét Pála Ólafsdóttir, director of the Association of Independent Schools, told Vísir that there was a lot that could be done with 250 million ISK, such as bring 160 children into playschool. Many children born in early 2009 are still waiting to gain admittance in the city’s already struggling playschools.
Gnarr, for his part, told reporters that polar bears are in danger of being wiped out due to climate change, and that it is imperative to get a polar bear into the zoo for this reason. He added that the animal would also attract more tourists, and that international conservation and environmental groups have shown an interest in financially supporting bringing a polar bear into the zoo. Gnarr also said he sees no reason to have to choose between the polar bear or playschool children.

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