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It was another sad day at SeaWorld last Thursday when its last remaining polar bear, 24-year-old Johnny, died unexpectedly after spending 19 years in captivity at the park.
While Johnny was old for a polar bear, he wasn't the first polar bear to die at the park unexpectedly. His death follows that of 18-year-old Klondike, who died unexpectedly last fall. Klondike's sister, Snow, also died of unknown causes a year earlier a few months after she was moved from SeaWorld to the Reid Park Zoo in Tucson, Arizona.
Regardless of what caused their deaths, polar bears are among the species known to do poorly in captivity. In the wild, they inhabit the largest space of any terrestrial animal species and are specifically adapted to survive in cold temperatures – something that definitely isn't found in Orlando.
While the park staff and visitors are mourning his loss, SeaWorld can make sure no more polar bears suffer in captivity by pledging to keep his exhibit empty. Please sign the petition urging SeaWorld to leave polar bears in the wild.
As someone who is concerned with animal welfare, captivity issues and the plight of polar bears in the wild, I was saddened to hear about the recent loss of SeaWorld's lone polar bear, Johnny.
While Johnny was old, he is among a species who do notoriously poorly in captivity and certainly should never have been kept in Orlando. Even with the best of intentions, no enclosure can meet the needs of these far-ranging predators who are designed to live in cold weather conditions.
I sincerely hope you will honor Johnny's life, and others who have passed before him, by keeping his exhibit empty.