Africa’s last captive polar bear died on Wednesday at a zoo in Johannesburg after months of grieving his lifelong companion.
Wang, 28, was put down by The Johannesburg Zoo’s chief veterinarian after suffering from chronic arthritis and liver failure, according to a CNN report.
The bear’s lifelong companion, GeeBee, died in January of a heart attack, which lead to Wang refusing food and walking around his enclosure listlessly.
Wang also shunned swimming, which was a favourite pastime of GeeBee’s.
Zoo staff had to coax the bear with special treats and toys to distract him from his heartbreak so he could eat and improve his health.
Wang was born at a Japanese zoo, and GeeBee came from Canada, with the two meeting in 1986.
Johannesburg Zoo released a statement saying that putting down Wang was “a very tough decision”.
On Valentine’s Day this year the zoo held a celebration for the lonely bear, bringing him a box filled with meat and fruit with a note that said “We love you Wang!”
A spokesperson for the zoo said that the bears did not reproduce because polar bears’ reproduction is stimulated by cold weather.