City of Joburg

Johannesburg City Parks and Zoo

Johannesburg Zoo


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Wang, the last polar bear in Africa, and an inhabitant at the Johannesburg Zoo for 28 years, has passed away.

sowetogreen1CHIEF veterinarian at the Johannesburg Zoo, Dr Brett Gardener, had to make a very tough decision at 11:49 today. He had to sign off on the decision to have Africa's last polar bear, Wang (29), be put down due to liver and heart failure.

The much-loved bear was born on 21 December 1985, and arrived at the Joburg Zoo in December 1986 as part of a conservation exchange programme with a zoo in Japan. At 30 years polar bears are considered to have reached their full lifespan.

Wang in recent months had been pining after his partner of 27 years, GeeBee, who died on 12 January 2014 due to natural causes. His distraught keeper Agnes Maluleke had ensured that his last days were filled with enrichment programmes and special treats, including his own Valentine's Day celebration.

Since November 2010, Wang, diagnosed with liver ailments, had been responding well to treatment. The Joburg Zoo however did indicate at that stage that it remained concerned about his health. It also resolved in 2010 to not replace the ageing polar bears at the Zoo. This decision is still in effect.

In tribute to Wang, the Joburg Zoo will dedicate the Zoo Trot on 14 September to his rich legacy.

Wang's many fans can post their tributes to him on our Twitter handles: @JoburgParksZoo or @JoburgParks, or on our Facebook page.