‘The hand-rearing of Knut is a breach of the animal protection code. He’ll rely on humans forever and this cannot be right.’
– Animal Rights Activist Frank Albrecht
There seems little logic in calling for the head of Knut, the polar bear cub who some say should die for being too tame. To kill little Knut would be to give in to a base fear that human beings should not interfere with nature… as if we haven’t always interfered with nature.
He’s unlikely to grow up to have wild polar bear friends as wild animals tend to fear their domesticated equivalents. Closer to home a tame stray cat at Oxford Road rail station is shunned by the wilder members of her species, but we’re not about to kill all our pets. Wild polar bears are solitary, friendless creatures anyway and being wild and free isn’t all we humans romanticise it to be. Wild animals most often live a subsistence existence in constant fear and die drawn-out painful deaths.
On the whole we’re pretty good at changing nature for the better and, while we may be sailing close to the wind with some dubious practices and too often fail to count the cost of our pleasure, that our supermarkets are open 24 hours with shelves stacked with foods of all varieties is an incredible achievement.
More dangerously, an irrational fear of interfering with nature may be all that stands in the way of releasing genetically modified mosquitoes into the wild and ridding the world of malaria, a disease that kills a million people a year and does much to keep Africa poor.