Lost, starving polar bear rescued by Siberian zoo | News | DW | 21.06.2019
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Lost, starving polar bear rescued by Siberian zoo

Spotted more than 400 kilometers (250 miles) from its traditional territory, the emaciated bear is being treated at a local zoo. Hunting and climate change are being blamed for it turning up in a Siberian city.

A malnourished polar bear that wandered into a northern Russian city hundreds of kilometers from its Arctic habitat was on Friday flown to a zoo in the Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk for treatment.

The two-year-old female was first spotted five days earlier, starving and exhausted, in the northern nickel-producing city of Norilsk, 2,900 kilometers (1,800 miles) northwest of Moscow.

Images of the emaciated animal roaming the city in search of food have gone viral.

Read more: German man attacked by polar bear on Norwegian island

Polar bear walks through a garbage dump (Reuters/Y. Chvanov)

A local wildlife expert said the starving bear's eyes were watery and that it could not see well

Oil giant Rosneft, which works in the region, described how the 200-kilogram (440-pound) bear became ill and almost died after scavenging for food at a garbage dump.

Sedated and flown to zoo

The company said it had helped to transport the bear to the regional capital for treatment, a day after specialists from the Royev Ruchei zoo arrived in Norilsk and sedated her.

"The bear is receiving all necessary treatment and healthy food," Rosneft said.

A rare sight

It was not immediately clear how the animal ended up some 400 kilometers (250 miles) inland from the icy shores of the Kara Sea, which is typical polar bear hunting territory.

Oleg Krashevsky, a local wildlife expert who saw the polar bear, said she may have simply got lost.

The zoo said on social media that the bear may have been held captive by poachers and then released.

Environmentalists, meanwhile, said polar bears are forced farther south to find food as the Arctic warms because of climate change.

Read more: Climate change making polar bears go hungry, study shows

"Reduction of the ice cover leads to a change in the feeding behavior of the animals," said Dmitry Gorshkov, a biodiversity expert at the wildlife conservation group WWF-Russia. 

"Unable to hunt seals," the bears are "forced to walk hundreds of kilometers in search of food and most often find it near human settlements," he told Germany's DPA news agency. 

Krashevsky said it was unclear what would be done with the polar bear as she looked too weak to be taken back to her natural habitat.

Watch video 00:40

Melting arctic sea ice is forcing polar bears onto land

In February, officials declared an emergency after dozens of polar bears entered a settlement on the far northern Novaya Zemlya archipelago, attracted by its garbage dump, and some wandered into buildings. 

mm/rc (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)

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