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Polar bear protest at Pairi Daiza: 'These animals have no place in Belgium'
Activists from 25 animal welfare groups protested outside Pairi Daiza animal park on Sunday against the planned arrival of polar bears.
The bears are expected by the end of this year, as part of a new exhibition called "Land of the Cold". They will have 5,000m² of outdoor space and two water basins of 450m² and 220m².
The animals are travelling to Belgium from an Australian zoo. "These animals have no place here in Belgium, the climate is not at all appropriate for them," one protestor told RTL.
Sophie Locatelli, from the association Le Rêve d'Aby, said: "A polar bear can travel more than 70km a day. I cannot believe it can do the same thing at Pairi Daiza."
Pairi Daiza management say the animals will be in good hands. "We have been studying a suitable environment for several years," said Pairi Daiza operations director Jean-Jacques Cloquet. "It will be 10 times better than the required standards.
"This is really a setting where they will find all the natural conditions they are used to."
He added: "We have a unique opportunity to explain to our visitors the threats that these creatures face."
There are an estimated 26,000 polar bears in the world. The species is classified as "vulnerable", with some experts forecasting a 30% population decline in the next 40 years.