The man was injured after the polar bear attacked him whilst he was leading a group of tourists to a remote Arctic archipelago on an apparent sightseeing tour, Norwegian authorities have confirmed.
The injured man was airlifted to a hospital in the town of Longyearbyen, on Spitsbergen island. If the opportunity presents itself, polar bears will also consume carcasses, such as those of dead whales. Hapag-Lloyd Cruises spokesperson Negar Etminan said he suffered head injuries but they were non-life threatening. The other guards shot the bear after trying unsuccessfully to evict the animal, the company said.
Arctic tourism has risen sharply in the last few years and it is now the high season.
The polar bear was shot and killed after the attack, the report said.
"He was flown out, was responsive, and is now undergoing medical treatment", spokeswoman Negar Etminan said of their employee, adding that the victim was not in a life-threatening condition.More news: Ozil has 'respect of every player', says Arsenal boss
According to the cruise company's statement: "The incident occurred when the four-person polar bear guard team, who are always on board for these expedition cruises as required by law, prepared for a shore leave". "When there's only 25,000 polar bears left on the planet, every one matters".
Critics lashed out at the tourists for travelling to a region with polar bears and then kill the animals when they become risky.
"Landings are possible only in a few places; these are not there to serve the goal of polar bear observation, on the contrary: polar bears are only observed from aboard ships, from a safe distance".
"They had no right to get themselves into a situation where they needed to defend themselves", said one Twitter user. They then set up a land station and check the area again to make sure that there are no polar bears in sight. A promotional film (see above) highlights wildlife, including polar bears.