Barking ‘polar bear’ shock as Greenpeace films at Shell garage

Residents and motorists did a double take after spotting what some believed was a real polar bear at a Shell garage in Barking

The creature, seen walking around the forecourt of the Ripple Road petrol station this morning, was in fact two Greenpeace members dressed in a polar bear costume.

The pair were being filmed, without the permission of Shell, for a Greenpeace film protesting against drilling by the giant oil company in the Arctic.

Motorists stopped their cars and a number of residents gathered to watch the filming, which started at 11am and finished around and hour later.

One resident, who did not want to be named, said: “I thought it was an actual polar bear - it certainly looked real. I assumed they were shooting for a movie or something. Loads of people were watching them.”

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The petrol station manager, Haran Siva, told the Post he and his colleagues asked the group to leave as they did not have permission to film at the station and were obstructing those wanting to buy petrol.

“They didn’t listen to us and stayed for more than an hour,” he said. “There were about 20 of them. We called the police who arrived soon after, but I think the Greenpeace people hid the cameras. The police said they couldn’t do anything.

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“We’ve got the CCTV however footage so we’ll pass it on to Shell and then they can decide what to do with it.”

Mr Siva said he knew straight away it was not a real polar bear: “It wasn’t walking right so I realised it was a fake polar bear, but some people thought it was and called the police about it.”

A Greenpeace spokesperson said: “A film crew were shooting a film in Barking today which protests against drilling by Shell in the Arctic.

“The polar bear is called Paula. She was made for a West End production and we bought her after it finished. She’s been on a number of trips, and just came back from a protest in Brussels. She is not made out of real polar bear skin.”

The film will be available to watch on-line within the next few months, he said.

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