The headlines were real knee-slappers:
"Fuzzy wuzzy was a bear, Fuzzy wuzzy had no hair..." [Globe and Mail print edition]
"Mystery disease leaves bears baring all"
"Who's taken my fur coat?"
"Bears left without hair to spare"
And the reality is that three sad, imprisoned animals, facing a German winter, have lost their fur. Reports differ as to whether stress was involved. Apparently such things are not uncommon.
My mother told me once about a polar bear kept in a very small cage in a park in Montreal. These animals pace endlessly. They are bored, frightened and miserable, and far from their homes (which, in the classic Orwellian way we have of making the concrete abstract, are referred to as habitats).
In the future, our descendants will look at the barbaric practice of caging animals in the same way that we look at our ancestors' fondness for bear-baiting at mediaeval fairs. No society that locks up wild animals to please crowds of free human beings can call itself truly civilized.