We’ve seen some pretty strange things this week but things just got a whole lot weirder. News broke out among social media last week of a polar bear that had spotted with “T-34” sprayed onto its fur.
Who in their right mind would want to go out and start spray painting polar bears?
Some speculators say it was scientists, others say it’s a military operation and then of course there’s always the pranksters that you’ve got to watch out for.
We’ve got the footage right here for you to check out for yourselves. Take a look at the grainy footage and let us know what you think is going on.
The video was reportedly leaked to a WhatsApp group that indigenous people in the Chukotka region of Russia use. It was then shared to Facebook by an apparent WWF (World Wildlife Fund) worker by the name of Sergey Kavry (Серёга Кавры).
A translation by the Siberian Times reports that the filmmakers, shooting from a non-moving vehicle, were confused as to why the bear was “so dirty”. They can be heard gasping and swearing, before realizing the “dirt” is not dirt at all, but paint.
Don’t worry, we’re all asking the same question… How on Earth did anybody manage to get close enough to tag a wild polar bear with spray paint and live to tell the tale (well we assume they did)?
Polar bears are notoriously aggressive and can dismantle a human in no time.
Anatoly Kochnev, senior researcher at the Laboratory of Mammal Ecology at the Russian Academy of Sciences, told the Siberian Times that the bear must have been put under some kind of medicated sedation in order for the “artist” to do their work. He notes that the apparent clearness of the “T-34” tag suggests the animal was sedated for a while.
So what’s with the “T-34”?
Why T-34? What’s the meaning behind that I wonder. Well, let’s see. The only possible thing I can think of is the iconic Soviet T-34 tank. You know, the tank that was famously used against the Nazis in WWII. The Russian tank garnered respect from all sides of the war with the Germans even declaring it the “best tank” of the war. What’s more, the tank has a unique place in the country’s identity and has become a symbol of national pride.
I’m not sure how relevant that is but..
There are some rumors circulating that the spraying may have been carried out by local townspeople. Every year, polar bears are drawn closer to human settlements in the Russian Arctic and the coastal town of Novaya Zemlya was declared a state of emergency earlier this year after 52 polar bears decided to make it their home.
As the climate is constantly changing, the sea ice melts and re-freezes in completely new patterns. As the thawing Arctic sea ice recedes, it brings with it the bears that rely on the fat-rich prey such as seals and other marine creatures that follow the tide.
This act could be one of retaliation. But the mystery remains.
Anatoly Kochnev told Russian media:
“This year there was a trouble with bears in Novaya Zemlya, perhaps they took measures into their own hands this winter: trapping and immobilizing them, since there are no scientists doing it,”
Animal welfare experts are concerned for the health and safety of the bears. They fear that because the bears naturally rely on their white coat to try and blend in to their surroundings and stay camouflaged from their prey, the black paint could mean the bears experience some difficulty with any stealth approach when hunting, ultimately dying of starvation.