The German Hapag Lloyd Cruises has come under fire after an employee shot dead a polar bear after an attack.
German Hapag Lloyd Cruises company is facing widespread criticism after a polar bear was shot dead for attacking a cruise ship guard in a remote region between Norway and the North Pole known for its glaciers and reindeer.
The polar bear was shot dead by another employee, the cruise company said on Saturday.
The Joint Rescue Co-ordination for Northern Norway tweeted that the attack occurred when the tourists from the MS Bremen cruise ship landed on the most northern island of the Svalbard archipelago, a region between mainland Norway and the North Pole that is known for its remote terrain, glaciers, reindeer and polar bears.
The German Hapag Lloyd Cruises company, which operates the MS Bremen, told The Associated Press that two polar bear guards from their ship went on the island and one of them "was attacked by a polar bear and injured on his head".
The polar bear was then shot dead "in an act of self-defence" by the second guard, spokeswoman Negar Etminan said.
English comedian, actor, writer and producer Ricky Gervais is among the hundreds of people that have taken to social media attacking the company for being "callous" and condemning tourism to highly sensitive wildlife areas.
The injured man was taken by helicopter to the town of Longyearbyen on Spitsbergen island. He was not identified and no further information was given on him.
"He was flown out, was responsive, and is currently undergoing medical treatment," Etminan said, adding that the victim was not in a life-threatening condition.