BBC's landmark "Frozen Planet" series has landed hot water over accusations that it faked a scene where a polar bear tenderly takes care of her newborn cubs.
Instead of shooting it in the bears' sub zero Arctic habitat, which is where part of the series was filmed, the scene was shot in a Dutch zoo.
According to the show's producers, the zoo location was clearly explained online and a BBC spokeswoman told British newspapers that "the commentary accompanying the sequence is carefully worded so it doesn't mislead the audience and the way the footage was captured is clearly explained on the program website."
The makers also say it would have been impossible to film these scenes in the wild because of the dangers to the cubs and claim they did not dupe the 8 million viewers who tuned in to watch. In an interview, the series' narrator Sir David Attenborough said, "If you had tried to put a camera in the wild in a polar bear den, she would either have killed the cub or she would have killed the cameraman, one or the other."
But the chairman of the Commons Culture, Media and Sport Committee John Whittingdale MP believes it was "hugely disappointing."
"If this was not filmed in the wild it would have been much better to have made that clear in the commentary," he told the Daily Mirror. Whittingdale goes on to say "It's questionable how many people would visit the website and find the video clip which explained the circumstances of the filming."
The series' producer Katherin Jeffs explains on the website that female polar bears gave birth at the peak of winter. "The problem us is that they do it underneath the snow in these dens of ice," she wrote.
"There is absolutely no way that we can get our cameras down there. It would just be completely impractical. Even if we could, we would not want to disturb the polar bears by getting that close. This was not part of the story that we could leave out of Frozen Planet."
The BBC's seven part series which cost almost $25 million to make over three years captures breathtaking images and wildlife of the Arctic and Antarctic.