Faux Grr: Lions and Tigers and Fake Polar Bears At the St. Louis Zoo?

There’s been some buzz (and a little outrage) online lately over the St. Louis Zoo placing fake polar bears in its empty polar bear display (the most recent living inhabitant was euthanized this past spring when vets discovered she had cancer). So what’s the story here? Has the zoo, as Huffington Post reports, installed electronic proxies provided by a holiday decoration company rather than shelling out big bucks to buy another live polar bear?

“No, the statement is totally inaccurate,” says Janet Powell, director of public relations for the zoo. “We have no proxies. We have no electronic robotics. We have holiday light fixtures. Some of the figures represent animals at the Saint Louis Zoo, and some do not. There is an African elephant, for example, and we have no African elephant.”

It seems the polar bears were brought in as part of Wild Lights, a holiday program at the zoo that features animated light displays. As for the bogus bears, they aren’t about to become permanent fixtures. “All of our light displays will be removed at the beginning of January,” says Powell. No word on whether the zoo will be investing in a real replacement bear.

The Riverfront Times has a photo of the display.

[Photo: Wikimedia Commons, Alexisrael]

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