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Polar bears

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OrientationBears
Polar bears in the Swan Orientation film


Polar bears were brought to the Island by the DHARMA Initiative, who kept them in cages at the Hydra station, on Hydra Island. (The World of the Others) According to Pierre Chang, because polar bears possess keen memory and adaptability instincts, they were prime candidates for studies in electromagnetic research. After training at the Hydra and solving the cage fish biscuit puzzles, the bears were fitted with a tracking collar, tranquilized, and taken to the Orchid where they were put in the familiar cold climate of the Frozen wheel chamber to push the wheel and be transported through space time. (The New Man in Charge) Some of the polar bears survived the Purge, after which they were freed from their cages and swam to the main Island. (Access Granted) After the crash of Oceanic Flight 815 in 2004, survivors of the crash occasionally encountered and were threatened by the bears. Charlotte Lewis discovered the skeleton and tracking collar of one of the experimented polar bears in Tunisia, where the Exit was located, that same year.

Appearances

On the Island

Badbear3
Polar bear in Hurley's comic book ("Special")
HydraPolar
A Hydra polar bear tracking collar
  • The Latin name for "polar bear", Ursus maritimus, was mentioned on the blast door map, implying that the bears were used during experiments on the Island. ("Lockdown")

STATED GOAL, REPATRIATION ACCELERATED DE-TERRITORIALIZATION OF URSUS MARITIMUS THROUGH GENE THERAPY AND EXTREME CLIMATE CHANGE


  • While chasing Dave, Hurley ran into Charlie and Mr. Eko and asked, "Did either of you see a guy run through here -- in a bathrobe, with a coconut?", to which Charlie replied, "No, but I did see a polar bear on roller blades with a mango." ("Dave")
  • Tom said one of the cages at the Hydra was formerly used to house bears. ("A Tale of Two Cities")
Vision polar bear
The polar bear in Locke's dream ("Further Instructions")
  • An attacking polar bear briefly appeared as a flash between the end of Locke's dream and him running out of the sweat lodge. Later, as a result of what he learned in the dream, Locke saved Mr. Eko from a polar bear in its cave. ("Further Instructions")
  • A tuft of polar bear fur was discovered by Locke and Charlie. ("Further Instructions")
  • Charlie told Locke that he used to get high and watch nature programs on the "Beeb" (BBC), where he learned that polar bears are very clever and "are like the Einsteins of the bear community." ("Further Instructions")
  • When Phil caught Jerry and Rosie dancing and flirting in the DHARMA security room, Phil said that Rosie shouldn't be there, because it was their watch. Jerry joked that the worst thing that could happen would be the polar bears figuring a way out of their cages. ("LaFleur")
  • When Pierre Chang found out Hurley knew about the dead body in the back of the DHARMA van, he threatened to assign Hurley to a job "shoveling polar bear feces" if he told anyone. ("Some Like It Hoth")
  • There was a Polar Bear skull in the makeshift crib in Claire's hut. ("Lighthouse")
  • The purpose of the bears was explained in the Hydra Orientation film by Dr. Chang. ("The New Man in Charge")

Off the Island

PBear
Stuffed polar bear given to Walt ("Adrift")
3x08-desmond-painting
The polar bear painting in Charles Widmore's office ("Flashes Before Your Eyes")
SkeletonPolarBear
The polar bear skeleton found in Tunisia ("Confirmed Dead")


Trivia

Production notes

BlankBearChaps
Kevin Blank running in bear chaps (Welcome to Oahu)
  • The writers chose a polar bear attack rather than a boar attack in "Pilot, Part 2" because J.J. Abrams wanted to hint early on at the Island's unique nature. He suggested a genetically-enhanced animal (an idea that eventually produced the hy-bird), but producer Sarah Caplan suggested that viewers could confuse that with the monster. According to Damon Lindelof, he and Abrams suggested "It should be a polar bear!" in unison."It should be a polar bear!"[1]
  • According to the Season 1 DVD featurette, "Welcome to Oahu", FX supervisor Kevin Blank wore "polar bear chaps" and ran through heavy brush in order to simulate the legs of the polar bear seen in "Pilot, Part 2".
  • Originally, director J.J. Abrams had been vehemently opposed to using a CGI polar bear on the show. The first version had a stuffed prop bear shot out of an air cannon towards Sawyer as he pretended to shoot at it. This version was shown on the pre-broadcast commercial before the pilot aired. Someone posted a freeze-frame capture of this online, which according to J.J., looked "laughable and ridiculous". He conceded to giving the CGI version, which he and the production team liked much better, a try. This was the version that ended up in the broadcast airing of "Pilot, Part 2". J.J. remarked that he was surprised people would analyze the show in such detail. The two versions can be seen below for comparison.
BearLaunchFreeze
Original stuffed bear
CGBear
Final CGI polar bear

Miscellaneous

  • Knowledge of the presence of polar bears on the Island has been used to demonstrate that the survivors did not always share knowledge.
  • A band called You All, Everybody (a Lost tribute band) wrote and released a song about the polar bears in September 2006.
  • The book Laughter in the Dark makes reference to polar bears in Hawaii. (Literary works)
  • Polar bears are excellent swimmers that have been known to swim as far as 200 miles [1]
  • The polar bear may be a reference to ironic process theory. From Wikipedia, a classic example is Fyodor Dostoevsky's quote from Winter notes on summer impressions: “Try to pose for yourself this task: not to think of a polar bear, and you will see that the cursed thing will come to mind every minute.” [2]
  • The well-known "white bear" psychological experiments were performed by Wegner. These experiments, wherein the subject was asked to speak randomly into a tape recorder but was told "not to think of a white bear", resulted in compelling findings about attempts to suppress strange or unpleasant thoughts. Trying to avoid thoughts of the bear, most subjects mentioned a white bear very frequently in their taped meanderings. Called "ironic process theory," this finding is thought to prove that attempting to suppress a mental image only makes it occur more frequently.

Unanswered questions

Unanswered questions
  1. Do not answer the questions here.
  2. Keep the questions open-ended and neutral: do not suggest an answer.
For fan theories about these unanswered questions, see: Polar bears/Theories
  • How did the polar bears escape their cages?
  • How many polar bears remain on the Island?

References

  1. Grantland: 'I Pretty Much Wanted to Die’ Alan Sepinwall, 11/26/2012

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