Polar bear dies at South African zoo

January 15, 2014
A polar bear outside Churchill, Mantioba, Canada on November 14, 2007

One of South Africa's two polar bears has died at the Johannesburg Zoo, leaving its mate now believed to be the only polar bear in Africa, a veterinarian said Wednesday.

Geebee, the 29-year-old polar bear, came from Canada and had long survived the in Johannesburg, where temperatures can rise above 30 degrees Celsius (86 degrees Fahrenheit) in the summer.

She died of natural causes and had lived in the zoo with her male partner, Wang, who is from Japan, for nearly three decades.

Veterinarian Katja Koeppel said the zoo had no plans of replacing the dead polar bear, saying the climate was not suited to a species native to some of the coldest parts of the world.

"They adapt very well but they can't breed, it's the wrong climate," she said.

She added that the two animals "preferred staying outside and swimming... then lying in the aircon room."

Since Geebee's death, Wang had displayed unusual behaviour and been destructive and restless, she said.

Explore further: Zoo polar bear cubs left to nature's fate

Related Stories

Beagle's nose predicts few US polar bear cubs

November 19, 2013

A specially trained beagle's smell test for polar bear pregnancies predicts there will be few new cubs for U.S. zoos this year—although a romantic trip to Pittsburgh apparently turned out well for a female bear in San Diego.

US tiger kills Malayan female on first mate

December 23, 2013

Zoo keepers are probing why a male Malayan tiger killed a four-year-old female tiger it had only just met, when they were brought together for breeding purposes in California.

Knut the polar bear's medical legacy

January 3, 2014

Keeping wild animals is an important component of the mission of zoos to educate the public and preserve endangered species. When animals die, tracking the potential cause becomes an investigation of pathogens from around ...

Recommended for you

Scientists use CRISPR technology to edit crop genes

November 30, 2015

CRISPR gene-editing is allowing rapid scientific advances in many fields, including human health and now it has been shown that crop research can also benefit from this latest exciting technology.


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.