This week, yet another captive animal died a tragic and unnecessary death due to the incompetence of zoo guests and staff. On Tuesday, Anton the polar bear sickened and died after eating a coat and purse that fell, unnoticed, into his exhibit in Stuttgart, Germany.
Zookeepers reported that Anton was acting strangely and, when he began spitting out pieces of material, they realized that the animal must have consumed items of clothing without being noticed. Staff attempted to save the bear by feeding him vomit-inducing drugs, but the damage was already done. Later that day, Anton died of severe internal injuries.
When interviewed, the bear’s keepers, Andreas Woessner and Juergen Diesenhofer, simply said “[t]here must have been something very tasty in there, something Anton simply could not resist.”
Unfortunately, this is not the first time an animal at this zoo has suffered from items that were dropped or tossed into its enclosure. In the last few years, an elephant seal named Charly and and a hippopotamus died after swallowing a teddy bear and a tennis ball, respectively.
In response to Anton’s death, the zoo has increased its warnings to visitors, urging patrons to hold onto their belongings and not drop food or items into the exhibits. However, it is likely that the warnings fall on deaf ears. In the past 25 years, zookeepers have reported finding 200 children’s’ shoes – as well as countless other items – in the polar bear exhibit alone. It is truly a wonder that more bears have not met Anton’s tragic fate.
The German zoo has come under scrutiny for its negligence in protecting animals like Anton and has added to the uproar which began earlier this week when a Copenhagen zoo killed a healthy young giraffe and fed its body to lions.
Photo Credit: Shutterstock
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