NORWAY—A polar bear was shot and killed after attacking an employee on the Svalbard archipelago between Norway and the North Pole. The polar bear attacked an Arctic Ship Cruise Guard from the MS Bremen on Saturday, July 28. The MS Bremen is owned by the The German Hapag Lloyd Cruises company.

Following the incident, Hapag Lloyd Cruises company released a statement via its Facebook page that read:

“This Saturday on a trip ashore in Spitsbergen during a BREMEN cruise an accident occurred: a polar bear guard – an expert employed by the cruise line – was attacked on land by a polar bear. The guard suffered head injuries, however, he was responsive after the attack and was airlifted. He is out of danger, with no threat to life. In an act of self-defense, unfortunately, it was necessary for the polar bear to be shot dead. We very much regret this incident. Hapag-Lloyd Cruises is very aware of its responsibility when travelling in environmentally-sensitive areas and respects all nature and wildlife.”

According to reports, the polar bear attacked the man while he was leading a group of tourists on an Arctic tour. The polar bear caused injuries to the guard’s head, at which point a second guard shot and killed the bear. The company indicated they tried to evict the animal before shooting, but realized immediate measures had to be taken to protect the guard.

Hapag Lloyd reported that the guard was flown out after being attacked. The company indicated he is listed in stable condition.

The website reports that polar bears are listed under the “vulnerable” category and there are about 22,000 to 31,000 polar bears remaining throughout the world. Due to the decreasing population of polar bears, some people were upset with the death of the animal. Comedian Ricky Gervais tweeted, “Let’s get too close to a polar bear in its natural environment and then kill it if it gets too close. Morons.”

Hapag Lloyd apologized for the incident noting that “Hapag-Lloyd Cruises has worked comprehensively and co-operatively with the Norwegian authorities to reconstruct and clarify the incident on the ground and will continue to do so. Hapag-Lloyd Cruises has been traveling to these destinations for many years with an experienced crew. The cruise operator is respected in the destinations as a responsible partner and the experts actively inform the guests about the appropriate behavior required in these areas. We are extremely sorry that this incident has happened.”