Appeal for return of
missing polar bear lantern
– no questions asked

The Asia New Zealand Foundation is appealing for the safe return of a baby polar bear lantern that disappeared at the end of the Auckland Lantern Festival.

Latest: Baby polar-bear lantern safe and sound  

The Asia New Zealand Foundation is delighted that its baby polar bear lantern has been found unharmed.

The polar bear lantern was found outside Orewa Police Station at 1am this morning with an anonymous note attached after the Foundation issued an appeal for its return yesterday.

Foundation director of culture Jennifer King thanked the media for their assistance in helping the lantern be returned so quickly, and the police for taking care of the lantern.

“We’d also like to thank the person who returned it. No hard feelings - it’s lovely to have the lantern back. It’s travelled a long way and we’re pleased to see it hasn’t been damaged.” 

Original press release

The Asia New Zealand Foundation is appealing for the safe return of a baby polar bear lantern that disappeared at the end of the Auckland Lantern Festival.

Missing bear cub

The hand-crafted and extremely cute lantern went missing from the “China on Ice” lantern display, which also features a mother polar bear and six penguins.

The Foundation would like to hear from anyone who knows the polar bear’s whereabouts, no questions asked. It was last seen looking at its mother bear on Sunday night at the festival in the Domain.

“Like many of the major lanterns, this one was made for us in Zigong, in the Chinese province of Sichuan,” says Asia New Zealand Foundation director of culture Jennifer King. “It was then taken by road to a port in Chongqing, transported along the Yangtze River to Shanghai, and shipped to Auckland.

“These lanterns are extremely difficult to replace. Whoever has the baby polar bear lantern won’t be able to display it without being noticed, because it is really is one of a kind. It would be sad for the mother bear to have to go on display by herself in the future.”

 “If you have the baby polar bear, you can call us on (09) 369-5014 to arrange a collection point, no questions asked. You’re not going to get in trouble – we just want the bear back.”

Ms King says the lantern could not simply be plugged in at home, and warns it could be dangerous to do so.

Artistic designer of the festival Becky Ehlers, who has been with the festival since its inception in 2000, says she was concerned about the lantern’s placement when it was initially installed. “I asked the guys to move it into the middle of the display because it’s so cute. It’s one of my favourites. Unfortunately it got nicked anyway, probably at the end of the night when everything was busy.”

It is the second time in the festival’s 17-year history that a lantern has been stolen. A pink flamingo was stolen from the Christchurch Lantern Festival in 2005 but was later returned to a radio station after a public appeal.

The “China on Ice” display was created to symbolise China’s work in Antarctica and the Arctic. China acceded to the Antarctic Treaty in 1983 and achieved voting status two years later. It now operates two year-round stations in west and east Antarctica, plus its inland summer station Kunlun located on “Dome A”, the highest spot in Antarctica. Since 2004 China has also had a research station in the Arctic.

“China on Ice” is not one of the lanterns that is due to be displayed at the Christchurch Lantern Festival on Saturday and Sunday nights.