Joburg Zoo polar bear dies

2014-01-15 18:17

One of two polar bears in Africa has died of natural causes at the Johannesburg Zoo.

The 29-year-old female, Geebee, died on Sunday, the zoo’s manager of veterinary services, Katja Koeppel, said today.

The animal began medical treatment for diarrhoea last week.

“At first, she responded well to the treatment, but after a few days rejected further medication. Early on Monday morning, during routine checks, we discovered that she had passed away. It is suspected this is due to natural causes relative to age.”

At 29, polar bears were considered old for their species, said Koeppel.

She said Geebee was brought into the zoo in 1986 with her partner, Wang.

Koeppel said the bears were together for almost 30 years, and had developed a close bond.

“Wang is pining for Geebee and is understandably very stressed. We will be monitoring him closely and ensure that he is kept busy to try to mitigate the stress.”

Since Geebee’s death, Wang had displayed unusual behaviour and had been destructive and restless. The bear had been receiving treatment for liver failure since November 2010.

Koeppel said the zoo would not replace Geebee.

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