A popular polar bear has died at a zoo after swallowing a toy ball thrown by a visitor.
The polar bear, named Umka, died at the age of 25 at the Yekaterinburg Zoo in Russia’s Ural Federal District on the morning of 20th April.
The cause of death was a toy ball thrown into his enclosure by a young visitor, which Umka swallowed and was unable to digest. The ball remained in his stomach and eventually killed him.
Umka was born in the rural locality of Billings in Russia’s Far Eastern Federal District and was orphaned as a young cub.
He had a lucky escape from a pack of dogs when he was rescued by locals. The scrap gave Umka a distinctive black scar on his forehead, which he had for life.
He was kept in a barn by the locals, who took care of him over the following four months, bringing him fish and walrus and seal meat.
As he grew, he began to pose a threat to the locals, given polar bears’ predatory nature. However, as he had been raised by humans, he was unprepared to be released back into the wild.
A permanent residence was found for him at the Yekaterinburg Zoo, and he was transferred there after a long flight via Moscow in 1998.
He quickly he won the love of the visitors and zoo staff alike, who issued a statement following the beloved bear’s death.
The statement read: “The zoo staff are very upset about the loss of their animal. Aina, Umka’s neighbour and faithful friend, is also in mourning.
“Dear visitors, we urge you to respect the animals at the zoo! Even a large and formidable predator cannot protect itself from carelessly thrown “gifts”. Forgive us, Umka.”
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Story By: William McGee, Sub-Editor: Joseph Golder, Agency: Newsflash
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