The sad truth behind the viral video of the persistent bear cub

While many saw the widely shared video as an example of perseverance, environmentalists and wildlife experts were dismayed.
The sad truth behind the viral video of the persistent bear cub
The sad truth behind the viral video of the persistent bear cub
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A video of a bear cub trying to climb a snow-covered slope went viral on social media a few days ago. Many users shared the video as an example of the age-old proverb – “if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.”

The video, captured in Eastern Russia by a drone, showed a baby bear following its mother up a steep snow-covered slope. The persistent cub slips and falls repeatedly – and at one point even slips to the very end of the slope – but manages to climb up to its mother by the end of the video, where both mother and cub run off into the wilderness.

The video, uploaded to the ViralHog channel on YouTube, quickly went viral after being shared by Canadian journalist Ziya Tong on Twitter.  It had over 187,000 retweets and 532,000 shares at the time of publishing. It was shared across social media platforms as well, with many commenting, “We could all learn a lesson from this baby bear. Look up and don’t give up.”

But, all was not well. The viral video had a darker side. Several users pointed out that the mother and cub were, in fact, terrified of the drone that was filming them. A video posted by Al Jazeera explains the problem.

In the video, as the cub nears the top of the cliff, the drone moves in, and goes much closer to the cub, aiming for a closer and a better look. The mother bear panics as she becomes aware of the drone. She tries to waves her paw aggressively to swat the drone away and ends up causing the cub to slide down to the very end of the slope.

Environmentalists and wildlife experts have voiced their dismay on social media over the footage. They stated that the drone posed a threat to the lives of the bear her cub, and was harassment.

“The video going around of a bear cub scrambling up a snowy cliff to get back to its distressed mother is being shared as a heartwarming metaphor for persistence. It’s not. It’s a dangerous stunt by an irresponsible drone operator who should know better,” Dr Jacquelyn Gill, a US-based professor and ecologist wrote on Twitter.

“Harassing wildlife for a photograph, a selfie, or a video is never okay. Respect animals by giving them space, and don’t share posts where animals are clearly in distress or in danger just because someone wanted to go viral,” she added.

In 2016, an article by The Conversation attempted to define a code for wildlife photography and videography. The article had encouraged the use of equipment that minimises the stimulus to wildlife and advised practices that involve minimum movement of the video recording equipment.

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