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CBS 'Early Show': 'Cute and Cuddly' Animals Threatened by Climate Change

In the 8:30AM ET half hour on Tuesday's CBS Early Show, co-host Maggie Rodriguez teased an upcoming animal segment: "...we have some visitors to the studio of the animal variety. Some of them are cute and cuddly....But they're all in trouble due to climate change and you're going to see these animals from the San Diego Zoo and hear about their precarious situation ahead this morning."

Rodriguez later introduced the segment by declaring that "climate change is affecting some of the world's most beautiful animals." She spoke with senior animal keeper at the San Diego Zoo, Rick Schwartz, who brought out the first guest, an arctic fox. Rodriguez asked him: "How is this animal in danger now?" Schwartz explained:

Well, the problem that we're having up in the north, mainly with the polar bears. There's not enough ice forming up there, so the time for them to hunt for their food is being diminished.... If the polar bears can't hunt and bring food out in the winter time for the arctic fox, we're going to see them probably - either their numbers decreasing also or possibly moving south and interfering with other species that would rely on the foods that they would be using.

Rodriguez remarked that Schwartz provided an "important education" to viewers. A headline on-screen read: "Critters & Climate Change; How Global Warming Is Affecting Animals."

NBC's Today had an almost identical animal segment on December 16 of last year, also citing the arctic fox as the latest victim of global warming.

Here is a full transcript of the segment:

8:30AM TEASE:

MAGGIE RODRIGUEZ: Ahead in this half hour, we have some visitors to the studio of the animal variety. Some of them are cute and cuddly. Maybe not that one. But they're all in trouble due to climate change and you're going to see these animals from the San Diego Zoo and hear about their precarious situation ahead this morning.

8:33AM SEGMENT:

MAGGIE RODRIGUEZ: The world famous San Diego Zoo has a new exhibit showing us how climate change is affecting some of the world's most beautiful animals. Senior keeper Rick Schwartz has brought some of the cute critters this morning with us. Hi Rick, good morning.

RICK SCHWARTZ: Good morning. Thanks for having us.

RODRIGUEZ Good morning, Mr. Fox or Miss Fox.

SCHWARTZ: This is Miss Fox.

RODRIGUEZ: Miss Fox.

SCHWARTZ: This is Tundra.

RODRIGUEZ: She's an arctic fox, right?

SCHWARTZ: Yeah, she's a 5-year-old arctic fox. And-

RODRIGUEZ: She's shivering.

SCHWARTZ: Yeah, she's a little nervous with all the lights and everything, but she's also comfortable in the arms like this. This is not, absolutely, you know, something that would be a pet by any means, but something that is an animal that's been hand raised and worked with by professionals.

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Critters & Climate Change; How Global Warming Is Affecting Animals]

RODRIGUEZ: This is an animal that thrives in frigid temperatures, hence the name.

SCHWARTZ: Yes.

RODRIGUEZ: How is this animal in danger now?

SCHWARTZ: Well, the problem that we're having up in the north, mainly with the polar bears. There's not enough ice forming up there, so the time for them to hunt for their food is being diminished. The arctic fox can rely on other food sources during the summer months, but during the winter months, they follow polar bears around. Anybody who's seen any footage of polar bears in the wild, we always see arctic foxes chasing after them to get all the scraps, basically the leftover food. So there's a very important relationship there with that. If the polar bears can't hunt and bring food out in the winter time for the arctic fox, we're going to see them probably - either their numbers decreasing also or possibly moving south and interfering with other species that would rely on the foods that they would be using.

RODRIGUEZ: Right, right.

SCHWARTZ: So everything is connected. And it's kind of an interesting effect that's occurring up there.

RODRIGUEZ: Important education. Alright. Thank you so much.

-Kyle Drennen is a news analyst at the Media Research Center.