Joburg zoo's only surviving polar bear in mourning


Wang mourns the loss of his partner who passed away on Sunday.

JOHANNESBURG - Johannesburg Zoo says Wang, the only surviving polar bear at Johannesburg Zoo, is unsettled by the passing away of his companion.

Geebee passed away on Sunday evening at the age of 29.

In a statement issued by the zoo, manager of veterinary services Doctor Katja Koeppel said Geebee began medical treatment for diarrhoea last week and 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-years-old, polar bears are considered old for their species,” said Koeppel.

Geebee and Wang arrived at the Joburg Zoo in 1986. Geebee came from Canada and Wang is from Japan. The pair developed a strong bond over the last 30 years.

The zoo said Wang displays unusual behaviour and has been, to some extent, destructive and restless.

“Anticipated loss of appetite and constant pacing in his enclosure is expected as well. Veterinary staff has assured the general public that he will be closely monitored to ensure his continued wellbeing due to his failing health as well,” read a statement from the zoo.

Joburg Zoo said it will not be replace Geebee, a decision influenced by Johannesburg’s weather conditions.

“Despite polar bears being highly adaptive, Johannesburg’s climatic conditions are not ideal for breeding purposes. Polar bears adapt really well to different conditions, however, will not breed in warmer climates as they require low temperatures to ovulate, so from a conservation perspective, replacing Geebee with another polar bear does not make sense,” said the zoo.