“Commute with a Polar Bear: Fact or Fiction of Russian Public Transit?”

People often share a picture online that appears to depict a polar bear leaving a bus in Russia. The image is usually accompanied by witty captions, like “another ordinary day in Russia.”

Several humorous captions have been attached to this photo, including “The Polar Express,” “The bus was unBEARable,” “Auditioning for the new Coca-Cola bear,” and “Kindly bear with us as we get this aggressive passenger of the bus.” However, despite its viral status, the image does not depict a real polar bear exiting a bus in Russia. While it is an authentic photograph that has not been digitally altered, it features a puppet named “Paula the Polar Bear” leaving a tram during a Greenpeace campaign to “Save the Arctic” in Brno, Czech Republic. The bus sign in the photo displays the name of Rakovecká Street in Brno, and two activists can be seen operating the puppet from within while other Greenpeace members educate the public on subjects such as climate change and drilling in the Arctic. In fact, the Greenpeace Czech Republic Facebook page even shared an image of Paula in Liberec back in October 2014.

In 2015, a realistic polar bear puppet caused a stir when it was spotted walking around a supermarket in Židenice, according to a report by Brno news outlet Centrum News. City police were called to investigate, only to discover that the furry white animal was actually a costume used by ecological activists. The puppet, known as Paula the Polar Bear, has appeared in cities around the world and was even featured in a short film starring Jude Law for Greenpeace’s “Save the Arctic” campaign. The stunning puppet was operated by puppeteers from the West End production of War Horse and manipulated by a team of post-effects artists.

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