An animal advocacy group’s allegation that a polar bear at SeaWorld San Diego died of a broken heart elicited a strong response Wednesday from the theme park.
SeaWorld reported Tuesday that the bear, Szenja, died at the age of 21. The cause of death was pending an examination.
In a statement, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals contended the death was the result of SeaWorld sending her longtime companion, Snowflake, to the Pittsburgh Zoo to breed more “miserable” polar bears.
“Szenja did what anyone would do when they lose all hope: she gave up,” said PETA Executive Vice President Tracy Remain.
In response, SeaWorld issued a statement that said its staff would “remain focused on our important mission of animal conservation and public education and inspiration.”
“We will not be distracted by organizations with a clear anti-zoo agenda creating false narratives not grounded in any scientific fact,” said David Koontz of SeaWorld San Diego.
“It is well-documented that adult polar bears are typically solitary animals, and Szenja was continually cared for and enriched by her dedicated and passionate animal care team,” Koontz said. “She did not demonstrate any adverse behavioral changes following Snowflake’s transport to the Pittsburgh Zoo in February as part of the Species Survival Plan (SSP) breeding visit.”
He said that unlike wild polar bears facing habitat loss, human encroachment and limited food sources, Szenja lived a “long and enriching life” at SeaWorld with the “passionate and uncompromising care” provided her trainers.
The bear made a positive impact on tens of millions of park guests that had the chance to see her over the past 20 years, he said.
Szenja was born in Germany and acquired by SeaWorld in 1997 for its then- new “Wild Arctic” exhibit. According to SeaWorld, she began showing a loss of appetite and energy over the past week, and her trainers and veterinary staff had been closely monitoring her condition.
–City News Service
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