The photographer saw the bear at the zoo and pressed the shutter release in disgust. The picture horrified animal rights activists around the world.
In their natural environment, polar bears live in temperatures well below freezing. Protected by layers of fur and fat, they're perfectly equipped for the icy cold waters of the Arctic Sea and can comfortably wander around in the snow.
Polar bear cub and mama. pic.twitter.com/SrzE0JrcBo
— Nature Photography (@NaturePH0T0S) 30. Juli 2017
It's quite a different story for polar bears that are forced to live in a zoo. Particularly in summer, the animals are often exposed to temperatures that their bodies cannot deal with.
The city zoo in Budapest, Hungary, is currently experiencing summertime temperatures reaching 110°F — absolutely intolerable for the polar bears living there. Zookeepers are now having to deliver in extra large blocks of ice to help the suffering animals cool down a little.
Photographer Miguel Morenatti took a picture of a bear rubbing against one of these ice blocks in the intense heat; he described the conditions as "brutal" and called the zoo itself a "hell."
Así de crueles somos para nuestro divertimento.
Acostumbrado a vivir bajo cero lo encerramos en un infierno.
Zoo de Budapest hoy 40º
— Morenatti (@MiguelMorenatti) 4. August 2017
Thankfully, the ice blocks seem to be giving the bears some relief from the heat. Watch the following video to see how the bears are coping at the zoo (in Hungarian):
Bosses at the zoo are at least showing some concern and seem to be doing as much as they can to help the bears cool down. It's of course an entirely different question as to whether you can defend keeping animals in captivity away from their natural environment.