Last Polar Bear In South Korea To Be Moved To UK

Posted on July 28th 2018

polar bear 5

South Korea’s last polar bear will be sent to the United Kingdom so that he no longer has to contend with the stifling humid summers of the Asia Pacific and can live his life in more appropriate surroundings his keepers say. Tongki is a 23-year-old male polar bear who takes his name from a 1980’s Japanese cartoon character currently lives in a 3,500 square foot enclosure at the Everland theme park on the outskirts of Seoul. He was born in captivity and is the only bear at the zoo after another bear died three years ago.

Moving to the UK

In November, Tongki will be moved to the Yorkshire Wildlife part in the Northern part of the United Kingdom. The park has impressive facilities, boasting a 40,000 square metre polar bear reserve that has been purpose built to replicate the Arctic summer habitat of the species complete with a number of lakes.

Better environment

His present handler Lee Kwang Hee says he hopes Tongki spends his final years in a better environment and is much happier. Currently there are four polar bears residing at the Yorkshire Park, Victor, Pixel, Nissan and Nobby. Unfortunately, their keepers do not know whether the group will accept the new addition to the reserve. The hope is that over time the group slowly become accustomed to Tongki and will eventually accept him as a member.

Tongki will not be replaced

Everland says it will not add another polar bear and no other zoos in South Korea have any plans to bring the species to their facilities. Polar bears are classified by the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of endangered species as being vulnerable. South Korean animal rights groups have longed called on zoos in the country to stop keeping polar bears and rather unsurprisingly have welcomes the decision by Everland. One campaign group calling itself Care says that the long hot summer in South Korea is tortuous for polar bears. Tongki is about 80 years old in human years and has lived a long life in isolation without family and friends for far too long the group says.

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