From Iceland — Mayor's Polar Bear Project Still Ongoing

Mayor’s Polar Bear Project Still Ongoing

Published November 8, 2010

Mayor Jón Gnarr’s plan to get a polar bear in the Reykjavík zoo is apparently still ongoing. Writing on his online diary, he told readers that “Project Polar Bear is in full swing. More news to come soon!” He later added that he finds it sad that polar bears who arrive in Iceland are killed, and that “I think we can profit from changing our welcome and do some good at the same time.”
This was followed by numerous comments from readers, some of whom raised the question of whether or not there were more important projects that needed attending to. Project Polar Bear is not likely the only item on the mayor’s agenda, but some other concerns have been raised in the past about the idea, which have yet to be completely addressed.
For example, when the idea was forth put forward during the municipal election season last spring, 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.
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 responded to these points by saying 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.
But who, exactly, would or intends to fund the project has yet to be announced. No word yet if this is a part of the news to come that the mayor alludes to.

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