“Paku, get your big butt off the floor and let’s go!”
“No.” The 1,000-pound polar bear laid on the ice cap, his wet snout resting on his front paws.
“I’m warning you, if you don’t move willingly, I’m going to have to use force.”
Paku opened one dark brown eye, scanned my 5’1 petite frame, and let out a derisive snort. Frustrated, I kicked one of his hind legs.
“Ow. Oh look, I didn’t move at all.”
I sighed, pulled my hood more snug around me, and tried a different approach. “Look, the zoo won’t be as bad as you think. There are other polar bears there, you’ll fit right in!”
Paku opened both his eyes to stare silently at me.
“It’s…it’s not the Arctic obviously…but sometimes, you have to settle for second best.”
“You know, I am really regretting the day you learned that word.”
Paku let out a deep rumble of a sigh and stood up, an intimidating sight of thick white fur and powerful well-developed muscles. He padded towards me, and with his snout, he nudged me towards the view of the melting glaciers. “What do you see?”
“A giant swimming pool.”
“I see home. Melting and broken, but the only home I’ve ever known.”
“That’s exactly it, Paku. The Arctic is gone, but I’ll be damned if I let you drown here because you’re too stubborn to move your big furry butt! So get on the plane, suck it up for a bit, and then play nice with the other polar bears at the zoo!”
Paku responded by fixing me with the most exasperated look a polar bear could muster.
“Come on!” I pushed his legs as hard as I could.
Grudgingly, I obeyed.
“When your home is broken, do you go in search of another? Or do you stay and fix it?”
Now it was my turn to puff in exasperation. “We have been through this. You can’t fix the Arctic, you’re a polar bear!”
“But you’re not.”
“Naptime.” The giant bear tucked his paws under him and curled up comfortably on the ice block.
© Jade M. Wong 2016
This was originally written in honor of Climate Week NYC 2014. Two years later, and it’s as apt as ever.
Credit for the beautiful featured photo goes to Gian-Reto Tarnutzer.