The Problem Behind a Viral Video of a Persistent Baby Bear

Science

For many people, a two-and-a-half minute video of a baby brown bear trying to scale a snow-covered mountain was a life-affirming testament to the power of persistence. As it begins, the cub is standing with its mother on the side of a perilously steep ridge. The mother begins walking across, and despite slipping a few times on the loose snow, she soon reaches the top. Her cub, following tentatively after her, isn’t so fortunate. It loses its footing and slides by several feet. It pulls itself together and reattempts the ascent, before slipping again.

Finally, the cub nears the top. But as the footage zooms in to focus on the moment of reunion, the mother inexplicably swipes at the youngster with her paw, sending it hurtling downward again. It slides a long way, scrabbling for purchase and finding some just before it hits a patch of bare rock. Once again, it starts to climb, and after what seems like a nail-biting eternity for anyone watching, it reaches its mother. The two walk away.

The video was uploaded to the ViralHog YouTube channel on Friday, and after being shared on Twitter, it rapidly went viral. At the time of writing, it has been watched 17 million times. The cub’s exploits were equal parts GIF, nature documentary, and motivational poster. It had all the elements of an incredible story: the most adorable of protagonists, rising and falling action (literally), and a happy ending. It was a tale of tenacity in the face of adversity, triumph against the odds.

But when biologists started watching the video, they saw a very different story.

We could all learn a lesson from this baby bear: Look up & don’t give up. pic.twitter.com/nm0McSYeqY

— IM🍑HIM (@ziyatong) November 3, 2018

The video, they say, was clearly captured by a drone. And in it, they saw the work of an irresponsible drone operator who, in trying to film the bears, drove them into a dangerous situation that almost cost the cub its life. “I found it really hard to watch,” says Sophie Gilbert, an ecologist at the University of Idaho who studies, among other things, how drones affect wildlife. “It showed a pretty stark lack of understanding from the drone operator of the effects that his actions were having on the bears.” (It wasn’t just scientists, either; several drone pilots were also dismayed …read more

Source:: The Atlantic – Science

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