Save Yupi the Polar Bear

  • by: Save Yupi Coalition
  • recipient: Director of Morelia Zoo, the Municipal Mayor and Governor of Michoacan, Mexico

Yupi is a female polar bear who was brought to Morelia Zoo in Mexico in 1992 at just a few months old. She came from the wilds of Alaska as an orphaned cub after her mother was killed.

When Yupi arrived at Morelia Zoo, she was placed in a former grizzly bear pen. She still lives in this same enclosure today, which is very small and barren, the surface is made entirely of concrete with no soft surfaces to walk on or lie in. Additionally, Yupi is held in a small holding pen for approx. 17 hours every day, this pen is tiny with no natural daylight.

The daily regime for Yupi is routine and predictable, with little to no environmental enrichment or stimulation. Polar bears require large spaces and a complex natural terrain, giving them choice and control over their daily lives.

Morelia Zoo is located in the central part of Mexico, which means that Yupi is exposed to a tropical climate, with temperatures remaining high throughout the year, dramatically different to the cold climate of Alasaka. Polar bears are not physically adapted to live in hot climates. Under their thick fur their skin is black, facilitating the retention of heat from the sun. They are also equipped with a layer of blubber to help maintain their body temperature; therefore polar bears can easily become overheated, particularly in alien, hot climates.

Yupi is about 20 years old; however polar bears can live for 25-30 years, so she may still have quite a few years ahead of her.

Please sign the petition to the Director of Morelia Zoo, the Municipal Mayor and Governor of Michoacan, expressing your concerns that Yupi's confinement is unacceptable and that she should be relocated to a better facility in a more appropriate climate.

We, the undersigned, are concerned about the continued housing and display of Yupi the polar bear at the Parque Zoologico Benito Juarez (Morelia Zoo) in Mexico and support moving her to a more appropriate naturalistic accomodation in a more appropriate climate as soon as possible.

Polar bears are uniquely adapted for life in cold environments and do poorly in temperate and tropical climates. In the wild, they inhabit extremely large home ranges, occupying one of the largest living spaces of any terrestrial animal species. They spend significant time hunting and tracking prey, walking, socializing and playing.

At the Morelia Zoo, Yupi is housed in an antiquated, undersized, barren enclosure that does not satisfy her biological and behavioural needs. She is the only Arctic animal in a collection of temperate and tropical species and opportunities for viewing Yupi are extremely limited by her enclosure.

We believe Yupi should be moved for the following reasons:

* Relocating Yupi would enhance the Morelia Zoo's reputation as a forward thinking, ethical facility and a leader amongst Mexican zoos.

* Viewing opportunities are limited to partial observation through several cloudy windows.

* As the only Arctic species, Yupi is out of place in the Morelia Zoo's collection of temperate and tropical animal species.

* Morelia has a warm climate year-round and Yupi is not provided with a cold environment.

* Yupi's enclosure is grossly undersized and does not provide enough room to facilitate natural movements, excerise and behaviours.

* Yupi's enclosure is almost devoid of structural enhancements, furnishings or materials to encourage natural movements or behaviours. Yupi's daily management regime is predictable and simplistic.

* Yupi is locked in a small off-exhibit holding area (a small concrete room) up to 16 hours each day. The floors are smooth concrete and there is sparse natural light inside the holding area.

* Yupi's outdoor enclosure is comprised entirely of hard concrete surfaces. There are no natural substrate areas provided to encourage natural digging and foraging behaviours or for the making of day beds.

* Yupi's outdoor enclosure does not provide sufficient shade or relief from Morelia's warm climate. The water in Yupi's pool is not cooled.

* Yupi engages in prolonged bouts of stereotypic behaviours and/or is lethargic - clear indications of an abnormal interaction between herself and her surroundings. 

For the reasons stated above, we strongly encourage you to do whatever you can to ensure that Yupi is relocated as soon as possible.

Thank you.

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