The female bear, visibly weak and seemingly ill, lay despondently on the ground for hours on Tuesday in Norilsk’s suburbs, its feet caked in mud, occasionally rising to sniff around for food. It is the first polar bear seen in the city in more than 40 years, according to local environmentalists. Oleg Krashevsky, a local wildlife expert who filmed the polar bear close-up, said it was unclear what had brought the animal to the city, although it was possible it had simply got lost.
He said it had watery eyes and could clearly not see well.
Mr Krashevsky told local media: “He is very hungry, very thin and emaciated. He wanders around looking for food. He almost doesn’t pay attention to people and cars.
“He is quite young and possibly lost his mother.
“He probably lost orientation and went south.
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“Polar bears live on the coast which is more than 500 kilometres (310 miles) away from us. How he got to Norilsk is not clear.”
Climate change has been damaging polar bears’ sea-ice habitats and forced them to scavenge more for food on land, bringing them into contact with people and inhabited areas.
A state of emergency was declared in a remote inhabited area of northern Russian earlier this year when dozens of hungry polar bears entered the village.
They were seen scavenging for food and entering public buildings and homes.
State wildlife experts are expected to arrive in Norilsk on Wednesday to assess the bear’s condition.
Local residents in the city known for nickel production came out to photograph the bear and look at it.
However, police prevented them from getting too close.
Krashevsky said it was not clear what would be done with the polar bear as it looked too weak to be taken back to its natural habitat.