Zoos are designed to give visitors a glimpse at some of the planet's most majestic a fearsome creatures, viewed from a safe distance and from behind protective barriers. But in a recent incident, caught on film at a facility in the Netherlands, that sense of security (among other things) was quite unexpectedly shattered.

In a YouTube clip provided by Dutch news source Diergaarde Blijdorp, a polar bear at the Rotterdam Zoo can be observed carrying a large stone from the bottom of its enclosure and heaving it against the glass walls of the tank. For the two men seen talking in the video, their close proximately to that iconic arctic predator doesn't seem to sink in until the animal's rock-tossing efforts finally make a breakthrough, causing the glass to fracture.

Officials say that the polar bear had only broken the first of five layers of glass, yet that was clearly enough to humble these two on-camera zoo guests, who before seemed rather uninterested in the powerful animal in their midst.

It is, of course, impossible to say for certain if the polar bear was merely playing with rocks, or had cast the stone with liberating intent from within that glass house -- but it certainly wouldn't be the first time a captive animal tried to break out of captivity.

Although monkeys are usually the most prone to dramatic break-outs, bears have proven quite successful at their bids for freedom too. Earlier this year, a bear captured in Alaska bound for a European zoo made a daring escape, back into the wild, when its keepers temporarily turned off an electric fence.

This scene, like so many others, inevitably raises the question as to whether it is ethical to keep otherwise wild animals confined -- particularly when they just might be doing their very best to escape.

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VIDEO Polar bear breaks window Rotterdam Zoo

Responses to "Polar Bear Uses a Stone to Shatter Its Zoo Enclosure (Video)"

  1. Unknown says:

    Wow, that's scary! I am against zoos myself, but I know they want to study the animals. It must be terrible for them to be trapped in this environment, especially if they were raised in the wild.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Maybe this will show that creatures like that shouldn't be kept in zoos. I don't know who thinks that's not cruelty. And we call them the animals.

  3. Anonymous says:

    He was just playing with it, like a boy throwing a ball right into a window.

  4. Anonymous says:

    "raises the question as to whether it is ethical to keep otherwise wild animals confined -- particularly when they just might be doing their very best to escape."

    Of course it's not ethical - what right do people have to imprison any animal for their own gain?

  5. Anonymous says:

    Do you think the bear is trying to tell humans something? I am not a fan of zoos at all. And for all those who defend zoos and say some animals would be extinct if it weren't for zoos - mmm, really? Uh, some animals are extinct because of humans. Wild animals belong in their natural habitat - if people want to study animals, that's where they should study them, in their natural habitat, not locked up in some prison cell with no way out. I cringe every time I see Sea World's commercial's about how much they love their whales - really? How would these people feel if they were locked up in a bathtub 24/7? Hard to compare a bathtub to an ocean isn't it? Swimming around and around and around in circles. That would drive anyone bonkers. The ignorance and selfishness of humans never ceases to amaze me, it just doesn't surprise me anymore.

  6. Anonymous says:

    I dislike zoos also. At least in some parts of the world they have improved in understanding animal needs and provide larger and more stimulating environments and better medical care.
    Saying this, zoos do provide one valuable service for the animals in the wild. By allowing people to see animals in real life they would never have the opportunity to see in the wiod, more people see their beauty and the opportunity exists to teach them of the obstacles facing that species survival in the wild.
    For animals on the brink of extinction, zoos provide opportunities to expand narrowing gene pools, freeze ovum and sperm for the future and, in the case of some animals, for instance red and Mexican gray wolves of America and pandas of China, preserve and expand the gene pools and actually finally provide animals for release and reintroduction into the wild.

  7. Unknown says:

    We are all of one Spirit, humans and animals. I would rather be extinct than held captive.

  8. Anonymous says:

    I want to know what kind of idiot keeps filming after a polar bear starts cracking open its encloseure.

    I have no problem with zoos.

  9. Anonymous says:

    There is a difference in meaning between the words "shatter" and "crack". This glass didn't "shatter".

  10. Anonymous says:

    that's why i don't like zoos!

  11. Unknown says:

    i don't get it. i'm thinking the glass wall musta been weak or something...i'm imagining being in the water and the force necessary to get a cumbersome object and flinging it against the window. i can see a person using it as a hammer. but this is a polar bear flinging it against a window. he must be strong or lucky...

  12. Anonymous says:

    My neighbor is one of the 'pool boys' for the polar bears at the local zoo. I like to think of a cage becoming unlocked and he gets eaten. He also keeps a young herding dog locked up in a tiny apartment day and night without proper exercise. I hear the dog pace and pant. People who want to lock up other life are sick and we'd be better without them.

  13. I have two issues with the zoo question. One, just showing people pictures of animals isn't enough to get them to see the animals as real. In that sense zoos may be inspiring conservation impulses in humans that some of them will follow up on. Not all of us have Mumsy and Daddykins to fund our vegan ecotourist safaris in Africa so we can go find ourselves. Two, many of these animals are being slaughtered in their home countries. Some of them being in zoos may be their best bet to save the species. Everyone here complaining about zoos, what are you doing to stop poaching? Signing petitions?

    All that said, I completely understand why an animal would want to escape, and I think zoos have a LOT of room for improvement. So I can see both sides of this.

  14. meepbeep says:

    Stop giving contraband (rocks) to the inmates (animals)!


    Seriously, I've got issues with zoos, but giving a giant, bored off his ass bear a rock was a terrible idea.

  15. Freek says:

    its simply playing and it only cracked one of many layers of glass (otherwise the water pressure would have pushed out the window and the water would have emptied into the space)

    there was no danger to the people, and this animal surely isn't saying it would prefer to be dead over being imprisoned, if it was desperate to get out it would have kept going, and tried to escpae through the pane... instead it just swims off.
    also you are assuming knowledge of an outside world this animal does not have, it doesn;t know the natural world as it has lived (almost) its entire life like this.
    even if it didn't it has not the intellectual capacity, its just playing with a rock that accidentally cracked a layer of the glass the glass.

  16. Although I agree with those who feel that wild animals shouldn't be kept in a zoo, the fact is that humans have created such a threatening place (called Earth) for many wild creatures, it has become our responsibility to protect them from our own kind.
    Humans are the most destructive and dangerous species on Earth.
    Save the animals from the humans!

  17. Gemma Jeva says:

    They can laugh, thinking about a play, but he WANT TO BE FREE!

  18. Fawzea says:

    Not the song I'm thinking of, but close

  19. Beryl says:

    Humans that believe animals like Polar Bars for instance aren't intelligent to the point that they want to break free from their prison by throwing a huge rock against the glass in an effort to free themselves lack the intelligence that this Polar Bear exhibited. Zoos are horrible places for animals because many of the animals aren't fed with proper amounts or quality. Another example of how zoos treat animals horribly are the zoos who have elephants in climates like in the Edmonton Zoo in Edmonton Alberta. Elephants originate in Africa which means that they suffer horribly from the cold temperature which makes them sickly and ultimately have to send them to sanctuaries in warmer climates. Polar bears are used to swimming hundreds of miles in search of food and in zoos, they are limited to a bathtub which, I am sure, drives them crazy and desperate to escape. Zoos like SeaWorld are notorious for killing their whales with bad food, small enclosures and forced to perform and serious infections. Look how many whales have killed their trainers! This intelligent Polar Bear was not playing, it is determined to gain its freedom. The only good thing that zoos do for animals is to protect them from the Inuit that still kill them for their furs and how humans have, with greenhouse gases have almost depleted their natural habitat and consequentially making them swim for hundreds of miles for food for the mothers and their babies. If humans are put in prisons for killing our wild animals, in Africa like our precious elephants, they wouldn't have to be in damned zoos to be saved from extinction.

  20. Morgana says:

    They are so sentient, but alas humans don't get it all, so someone comes to the fair conclusion that animals are by far more intelligent and sentient than them.

  21. Anonymous says:

    I believe some endangered species are protected in zoos, but I would prefer for them to be protected in their own environments. I believe animals will try to break out if they can.

  22. Unknown says:

    hope they will close all zoos and dolphinariums around the world ! empty the tanks

  23. Unknown says:

    If i owned a zoo, it would take you all weekend to travel the park and you may not even see half of the animals. If you're going to enclose an animal. You give them 20 acres to play in, and if they're a polar bear, you give them an environmentally controlled area. Its sad to think humans are the reason these animals are caged, but it's worse when those animals are hunted to extinction outside the cage...

  24. Unknown says:

    He decided he had enough of that place and broke out.You go bear free at last.Love this

  25. I have been to zoos and circuses over my 75 years. I have been and lived on rescues. Zoos that were long ago were horrible and I cried. Now the zoos that are respectful are beautiful and spacious. I believe certain animals need the zoos because of human encroachment on the environment. The polar bears are suffering and dying because of ice melting. That polar bear was obviously aiming at the two gentlemen, not looking to escape. Animals do have a sense of play.

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