Today the New York Times published an article centered around what has come to be known as the “world’s saddest polar bear”. In a shopping mall in southern China, the bear, named Pizza, is kept in a small enclosure for the entertainment of everyday shoppers. Although the bear is kept alone and has no other animal interaction, this mall is no different from others in China and around the world. In fact, this mall is home to about 130 different animals. In a fight against the convenience and low prices of online shopping, many malls have adopted such entertainment strategies in order to stay competitive. Advocates for such strategies further explain that in China there is a tradition of “respecting heaven and caring for animals” and that neither of those virtues have been broken.
It seems as though this concept of keeping an animal in a small enclosure by itself for the entertainment of those passing by violates multiple principles of philosophy that we have covered in class. Let us first notice the negligent obedience taking place in the situation. Wild animals, much like people, and especially polar bears, need a lot of space in order to live comfortably and naturally. Furthermore, most living animals need social interaction with others in order to maintain their cognitive health. The mall displays negligent obedience by failing to provide this animal with both, so much so that it has become to the bear’s detriment (as the article explains).
Amongst other philosophical staples, the mall violates McFall’s definition of integrity. We learned from McFall that integrity has three traits: consistency, coherence, and intent. China’s mall is failing to uphold the integrity of its countries beliefs. By keeping the polar bear by itself in a small enclosure solely for the purpose of entertainment, they disrespect and disrupt the natural purpose of the animal. They show inconsistency in doing so as Chinese culture has a tradition of “respecting heaven and caring for animals”, a virtue in which the mall has chosen not to abide by.