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Polar bears
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Genetic manipulation

Theory 1: The Polar Bears were genetically manipulated to survive in the tropical temperature of the Island


  • Polar bears could not survive the temperatures on the Island unless they were somehow modified, otherwise they overheat at 50 degrees Fahrenheit.[1]
  • The Blast Door reads:
    This may mean that the polar bears were being changed physically so that they could live in the warm climate of the Island, which ties the bears into the larger picture of the DHARMA Initiative.
  • The Valenzetti Equation was supposed to predict the end of mankind. One of the factors it considered was the effect of climate change on life, which could, at least in theory, cause the end of mankind. The DHARMA Initiative seeks to alter the Valenzetti Equation by changing one of its factors. If the DHARMA Initiative can enable life (in this case, polar bears, who normally overheat and die in temperatures above 50 degrees F., since they do not shed their coat in the summer) to adapt to warmer climates than it is used to, that means they (DHARMA) have possibly altered one of the variables in the equation, thereby fulfilling one of the goals of the DHARMA Initiative. The bear research could then be used to enable humans to adapt to similar changes.
  • The blast door map has "Polar bear testing facility" written on it. Suggesting that DHARMA was testing polar bears and they subsequently escaped to roam the Island.
    • The polar bears survived the purge in 1992.
    • There is an entrance portal on the North Pole that was incidentally discovered by the bears that caused DHARMA to research climate adaptation (one of many "special places" mentioned by Ms. Hawking).


  • Actually reading that blast door text it looks to me not like they were trying to make polar bears survive extreme climates, but it was the extreme climate (as well as gene therapy) that was used to modify the bears. The goal of this would be that the polar bears would behave less aggressive and territorial.
    • The behavior of the polar bears on the Island was MORE aggressive and territorial than they usually are in the wild. Polar bears who attack people usually do so because they are hungry or scared. The Island's polar bears charged at people with no provocation, despite the plentiful fish available for food. I guess it could've been a failed experiment, but since changing animal behavior seems like such a basic experiment compared to many of the other DHARMA projects it seems unlikely.
      • It is actually very likely that they simply attacked people because they were scared. Out of their natural environment in one that is INCREDIBLY stressing on their bodies stressed beyond belief to survive, them attacking people seems explainable because they were overheated, scared, awed, and shocked.--Master Tej (talk) 17:03, March 28, 2014 (UTC)
  • Counter-theory: In the Sri Lanka Video, Mittelwerk stated the DHARMA Initiative failed, and the factors had not been changed.
  • What the DHARMA Initiative wanted was to change one of Valenzetti Equation's factors. Maybe these factors on the Island differ, so what they were studying was actually the Island itself.
  • Do a little actual scientific research on polar bears. Polar Bears are possibly the fastest evolving species. he oldest known polar bear fossil is less than 100,000 years old. why was a population of brown bears so quickly able to adapt many(not just white fur) beneficial mutations to survive in a new environment when so many other species develop zero beneficial mutations and go extinct due to climactic change. if the DI's purpose is the change the variables of the Valenzetti Equation and save the world. I think part of that would be unlocking whatever adaptable evolutionary secrete is in polar bears and see if there is a way for humans to evolve faster and survive coming climactic and environmental changes and clearly there is something to it because somehow those bears they brought to the island have no trouble surviving in a tropical climate.
    • True but not the fastest... Raccoons are the FASTEST evolving creatures... The Polar bears appear to have been changed recently because the polar bears fur color would have changed because they gradually change there fur color in captivity.
    • What does "fastest-evolving creatures" mean exactly? Googling the phrase along with both raccoons and polar bears turns up this wiki as a top result (i.e., there seems to be a lack of other sources), and honestly it doesn't sound very meaningful. If you mean how long it takes for an organism to develop genetic traits that are beneficial in the new environment, AFAIK the biggest factors are the length of a reproductive cycle, size of the existing genome, and luck. Organisms that have a shorter reproductive cycle because there are more chances for mutation over the same time period, and less complicated organisms can evolve very quickly because a single mutation has a much bigger impact on the whole (small organisms also tend to have a short reproductive cycle). And luck, because there's no real way to control whether mutations will be beneficial or harmful, organisms with beneficial mutations can sometimes die anyways, and mutations that help survival may harm its attractiveness to mates (and vice versa). Probably single-celled organisms are the best species to study then. If you mean the youngest species, I don't know what the youngest is, but the domesticated dog emerged somewhere between 10k-40k years ago.

Polar Bears and the Frozen Donkey Wheel

  • The polar bears are there only to move The Frozen Donkey Wheel. They trained them on the smaller Island to solve complicated puzzles, so it is feasible that they could train them to push the wheel as well.
    • This seems like too much trouble. Yes it is cold in the Donkey Wheel room, but to have to genetically alter polar bears just so that they can turn the wheel seems a bit excessive. There must have been an easier way to do it.
      • They wouldn't have needed go to the 'trouble' of genetically modify the bears in order to train them to solve complicated puzzles. Ben said that whoever moves the Island can never come back, so the polar bears are there so that no one has to be banished if the Island moves. When organic matter moves the wheel it gets transported to Tunisia, where both Ben and a DHARMA polar bear were moved.
  • This is the most viable justification for the polar bears. They are also able to withstand the cold temperatures and are strong enough to move the frozen donkey wheel.
    • This would propose that the Island has been moved multiple times with Ben at the helm. "Whoever moves the Island is not allowed to come back" seems to reference a person.
      • Clearly Ben found a way to come back since he left the Island (as has Richard, although not by moving the wheel) and returned. Ben came back to the present time via the plane. He could not be shot as a kid and present as an adult "whatever happened, happened." He did not die, but at that moment learned of the Island's ability to raise the dead.
    • The cave stemming from the Orchid has just one entrance and exit, a narrow passageway just big enough for an adult, with a flimsy ladder leading down into the donkey wheel chamber. This would suggest that only a human being could turn the wheel, as any animal strong enough to perform this task would most likely be too large to be led into the cave and would certainly be unable to transcend the ladder.
      • A young polar bear could fit through the tunnel.
      • The Orchid could have had several entrances to the donkey wheel in the past.
    • It is likely that Ben was the first person to turn the wheel (at least since Dharma built the Orchid); he blew a hole in a wall with no signs of previous damage, and this is the only entrance to the chamber. The polar bear found in Tunisia could be sent very far into the past at some point after Ben breaches the wall.
    • There was likely many entrances to the donkey wheel chamber in the past. Ben just needed a short cut to avoid the mercenaries.
    • The wall could have been built after teaching the bear to turn the wheel.
    • The bear skeleton found in Tunisia was at least old enough to completely decay and skeletonize in the desert heat.
  • Why not just use technology for moving the wheel?
    • Because Jacob, who we are being led to believe is the voice of the Island, "hated technology". In this case trying to manipulate the Island-moving controls with technology is futile due to some sort of an effect such as an electromagnetic pulse rendering machinery useless.
      • Jacob does not hate technology, the cabin isn't his it is MiB's cabin, MiB hates technology, he manipulated Locke into imploding the Swan thus creating an electro-magnetic pulse that renders most technology useless (such as the beacon that guides the Others back to the Island after leaving)... Jacob has absolutely no problem with the progress of technology...
  • It's true. Because if the polar bears move the frozen donkey wheel, it will be tele-transported to Tunisia and that dead polar bear in Confirmed Dead was an experiment to know if it can survive both climates, but it fail and it died in Tunisia.
    • Seeing as though there was no reason given as to how the polar bear died it could just as likely have died from starvation or been killed by a very frightened and confused Tunisian.
    • Or, rather than experimentation with climate, the polar bears were used to test the wheels effect on the brain. They make a point to say once or twice that polar bears brains are the closest in size to humans.


While polar bears are strong and can tolerate very low temperatures, it does not seem that these qualities are very important or a requirement of turning the Frozen Donkey Wheel. Locke was badly injured and wasn't wearing anything warm when he turned the wheel. Clearly they could have used a more predictable and less dangerous animal, for example, a donkey.

DHARMA might have used polar bears because they were looking for the exit. Sending a bear would greatly increase the chances that they would get back a report of somebody spotting a polar bear where one would never expect to encounter one (unless, of course, if the exit happened to be in the Arctic regions).

  • This seems to be the most fitting explanation. The polar bears seem to me to be little more than giant lab rats, not unlike Daniel Faraday's lab rat "Eloise" which was used in his own time travel experiments, white with red eyes. It seems likely that they were using the polar bears in their own experiments. We see in the video that they were using bunnies, so it reasons to believe that they may have at some point used the polar bears, which is why the remains of one are discovered out in the desert, because that's where it ended up, just like Ben and Locke.

Other than the skeleton in the desert and the fact there were some Arctic parkas on the Island, there doesn't seem to be any direct evidence that Dharma ever actually used the wheel in any way. Chang stopped the drilling when the wheel was found and around the same time threatened Hurley with the task of weighing polar bear poop (indicating the bears were already on the Island around the same time the wheel was first discovered and not brought there explicitly to turn the wheel). Also, Dharma never mentions having moved the Island in any way (or knowing that if a person did move it they would either disappear or be unable to return to the Island).

  • This seems to be the most likely case. Although Chang may have been mistaken about "releasing a massive pocket of energy", DHARMA built the Orchid over top of the wheel with knowledge of its presence, but did not go into the chamber. The fact that the wheel chamber is the same in terms of objects inside of it in both the scenes with Ben and Locke, which were likely thousands of years apart, leads one to believe that DHARMA never went inside. With regards to Ben, what likely happened was that he simply learned about the wheel, including its purpose, effects, and location, from the Others, and so knew what to do in "There's no Place Like Home". As for the polar bear in Tunisia, the explanation is simple. DHARMA knew about the wheel cave and built a little chamber right next to it, which is what Ben put metal into. Somehow, they fed off of the energy in the wheel cave and used it to teleport objects through space and time, the one that the audience saw being the bear in Tunisia. This is further supported by how Chang instructed DHARMA members in the Hyra film to be sure that the bears did not have any metal on them (signifying that they were put in the chamber), that they were not pregnant (signifying that they were exposed to electromagnetism, like that in the wheel cave) and to affix a tracking collar on them (signifying that DHARMA knew they were being transported to somewhere else, likely off The Island).--Master Tej (talk) 17:18, March 28, 2014 (UTC)


It's possible that a young polar bear could have fallen down the shaft in the Orchid station. The polar bears were trained to figure out complex puzzles, such as the fish biscuit gizmo in Sawyer's cage. Bewildered, the bear could have recognized the wheel as something to be turned, followed its training, and accidentally wound up as the fossil in Tunisia.

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