YONGIN, Oct. 18 (Korea Bizwire) — The only remaining polar bear in South Korea, which had lived in a zoo south of Seoul for more than two decades, has died ahead of his relocation to a wildlife park in Britain later this year, zoo officials said Thursday.
The bear, named Tongki, died around 6:00 p.m. Wednesday at the zoo of the Everland amusement park in Yongin, south of Seoul.
The zoo asked an expert at Seoul National University’s the veterinary school to conduct an autopsy on Tongki that lasted until the early hours of Thursday. The expert said the polar bear is believed to have died of old age.
In June, the zoo said it would relocate the 24-year-old Tongki to Britain’s Yorkshire Wildlife Park in November as it looked for ways to provide the aged bear with a better living environment after other polar bears at the zoo died.
Animal activists had called for better living conditions for Tongki.
Born in 1995 at a zoo in the southeastern city of Masan, Tongki moved to the Everland zoo two years later. Considering a bear’s life span is 25-30 years, Tongki was about 70-80 in human years. It had been living alone in the zoo since 2015 after all the other polar bears died.