“Posted on behalf of my mum”
- ‘Winner’ died of hyperthermia at Buenos Aires Zoo after overheating in high summer temperatures
- Polar bear was also thought to have been frightened by noise from Christmas Eve fireworks
- Animal was one of the most popular attractions at the Argentinian Zoo
The last remaining polar bear at Buenos Aires Zoo has died after overheating in soaring summer temperatures.
‘Winner,’ who was one of best loved attractions at the zoo, is believed to have been unable to control its body temperature in the extreme heat of the Argentinian summer and died of hyperthermia.
The animal, which was covered in heavy fur to cope with freezing conditions in its native Artic habitat, was also believed to have been frightened by the noise from fireworks let off to celebrate Christmas Eve
The zoo is a popular visitor attraction in the Argentine capital and has a tradition of looking after polar bears.
The animals used to live in a pool but their cage was improved in 1993 when a 145,000-litre pool was built along with a site for birthing and three security rings.
The zoo said in a statement that it had been visited by experts and met all international regulations to house polar bears.
The polar bear is often regarded as a marine mammal because of the large amount of time it spends at sea.
Its preferred habitat is the annual sea ice covering the waters over the continental shelf in the Artic.
The animal is a very good swimmer with some spotted in the sea as far as 200 miles from land.
CAN BEARS FROM THE ARCTIC REALLY ADAPT TO WARMER WATERS?
Polar bears cannot simply acclimatise to hot climates. Even if a polar bear is born in a warm climate and lives there all of his life, he will still possess several physiological adaptations to life in the Arctic.
Even if he loses some fur and blubber, he will always have black skin that absorbs heat and hollow hairs which work as efficient solar collectors.
Polar bears do not have any physical means of staying cool; they rely on behaviour to do that.
They will try to take as much shade as possible during the warmest parts of the day and cool off in cold water when they overheat.
Zookeepers may try and balance their energy expenditure and food intake to regulate their body temperature and may be fed a vegetarian diet or simply very little during warmer times (eating meat and fat generates immediate heat energy).
The bottom line is that polar bears can be resilient but this does not mean that they are comfortable.
The bears are rarer in the extreme north of the Arctic although the animal is believed to roam across right across the region.
They tend to favour hunting on sea ice and in the sea in search of prey such as seals. Polar bears often frequent areas where sea ice meets water – primarily around the edges of the ice pack, where more seals can be found.
The global polar bear population is believed to be between 20,000 and 25,000 with 19 recognized sub-populations.
The polar bear is the largest terrestrial carnivore, with adult males weighing between 350 and 680 kg (770–1500 lbs) and measuring between 7.9 and 9.8 ft in length.