Polar Bears Stranded on Thames

London, 26th January 2009: A 16 foot high sculpture of an iceberg featuring a stranded female polar bear and her baby cub was launched on the River Thames today providing Londoners with a timely reminder of the dangers of global warming.

The sculpture, which was specially commissioned to mark the launch of Eden, a new digital TV channel devoted to natural history, graphically brought to life one of the most iconic images of climate change – the melting ice caps.

A team of 15 artists spent two months constructing the 20ft by 20ft square structure which was launched in Greenwich, South East London at 6:30am, before travelling up the Thames to stop beside Tower Bridge and the Houses of Parliament for a national photocall. The structure weighing 1.5 tonnes was winched into place in freezing temperatures, before travelling 7.5 miles along the Thames.

The melting of the ice caps will not only affect the polar bears, there will also be serious repercussions for the two billion people who depend on the glacial meltwater that feeds their rivers. The polar bears’ presence in London highlights these issues which will also be addressed in Eden’s Fragile Earth series which will run throughout the week.

Broadcaster and eminent wildlife conservationist, Sir David Attenborough says:

“The melting of the polar bears’ sea ice habitat is one of the most pressing environmental concerns of our time. I commend Eden for highlighting the issue; we need to do what we can to protect the world’s largest land carnivores from extinction.â€

Eden’s Channel Head, Adrian Wills, says:

"The Earth is a fragile place and we were keen to launch with a message that would draw attention to the uncertain state of our finely balanced environment. Our aim is to reflect one amazing world, with one amazing channel that can address issues like climate change whilst providing an entertaining, informative experience by airing a range of high-end premieres, landmark natural history programmes and first class wildlife documentaries."

Now the polar bears’ have finished their journey along the Thames, they will be taking the message about global warming to Hampstead Heath as well as key cities across the UK including Birmingham and Glasgow.

The Thames is familiar with unexpected visitors. In January 2006 a seven-tonne bottle-nosed whale became trapped in shallow water near Battersea Bridge. Crowds gathered as the British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR) attempted to save its life. But despite the team’s efforts to move it into deeper water, the whale died.

Other mammals which have strayed into The Thames include a family of Harbour Porpoises, which were spotted near Vauxhall Bridge in December 2004. Three years previously, a Bottle- nosed dolphin was discovered swimming past Tower Bridge and Blackfriars Bridge.

Eden’s programming starts at 9am, Monday 26th January 2009, with Attenborough Explores... Our Fragile World at 10pm. A programme schedule for new digital Natural History channel Eden can be found at: www.exploreeden.co.uk