Africa’s last polar bear dies

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IOL wang polar bear Ihsaan Haffejee 739 13/11/2011 Wang, the 25 year old polar bear at the Joburg Zoo, spends some extra time lazing around in his pool as temperatures soar in Joburg as the summer heat takes its toll. Picture: Ihsaan Haffejee

Johannesburg - Africa's last polar bear has died, the Johannesburg Zoo said on Wednesday.

Wang the bear had to be put down by chief veterinarian Dr Brett Gardener due to liver and heart failure, spokeswoman Jenny Moodley said in a statement.

He was diagnosed with liver ailments in November 2010.

Wang, who was born in 1984, arrived at the zoo in 1986 as part of a conservation exchange programme with a zoo in China.

“At 30 years polar bears are considered to have reached their full lifespan for the species,” said Moodley.

Wang's partner for 27 years, GeeBee, died of natural causes in January.

“His distraught keeper... Agnes Maluleke ensured that in the recent weeks his days were filled with enrichment programmes and special treats, including his own Valentine's Day celebration,” said Moodley.

The zoo decided in 2010 not to replace the ageing polar bears.

“This decision is still effective,” she said.

As a tribute to Wang, the zoo would dedicate the Zoo Trot on September 14 to him. - Sapa

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