Three polar bear cubs were born at the Toronto Zoo in November. Two died, but one is still going strong. The zoo posted footage of Aurora taking his first steps (below).
The natural cycle of a polar bear is to have cubs in November or December. They nurse in a den through the harshest part of the winter. When the spring comes, the cubs emerge with their mother and are hopefully strong enough to survive in the outside world.
Watching the footage of the young cub is amazing for a number of reasons, but especially for the strong emotions it provokes. All I want to do is reach out and protect this little guy.
I felt a touch of surprise at second 0:30 in the footage, when he turns to the side.
Aurora looks like a toy teddy from the front, but his profile is clearly that of a polar bear. It reminds me that he will grow up to be a fearsome predator. He will eat a human if presented with the right timing and chance.
Why do we have such strong protective feelings for something that could grow up to eat us?
I asked myself this question as I spent a good portion of my weekend on frustrating tasks that were of little interest to me (trying to download and install the Paleocraft Mod for Minecraft for my 8 year old…gasp). My son is cute, I will happily do any number of things for him and he will hopefully not grow up to eat me, but much of what I do for him is at my own expense. As I struggled with directories and Minecraft forge (?), I kept wondering: Why am I doing this? What is driving me?
It’s a lot of love and partly instinct, of course. Part genetics. It’s how we’ve evolved. But there is a lot of ridiculousness in parenting that I don’t really understand. If I were only trying to ensure my offspring stayed alive, I don’t think Minecraft would be such a priority.
I sometimes have this feeling that as my kids are growing, I am shrinking. Is there a touch of parasite and host about our relationship? Is there something slightly devious about a little body that is so cute and cuddly? Will this bear grow up to bite the hand that feeds it? Probably to that last question, if given the chance.
The issues are complicated, but I’m convinced the seeds of an answer to what lies behind a cute face are somewhere in the footage of this polar bear cub. I’ll keep watching.