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Yupik the polar bear dies after 25 years in warm Mexican zoo

View of polar bear named 'Yupik' at her pond in Benito Juarez Zoo in Morelia, Michoacan state, Mexico, on March 20, 2018. 'Yupik' will be transferred to Yorkshire Wildlife Park in the United Kingdom at the request of Mexican Congressmen and environmentalists, which created controversy among the Zoo authorities. / AFP PHOTO / ENRIQUE CASTRO

MEXICO CITY — Yupik the polar bear died after spending more than 25 years in a barren enclosure at a warm Mexican zoo, and activists said Wednesday the zoo had resisted efforts to transfer her to a more suitable climate.

The Benito Juarez zoo in the city of Morelia in western Mexico said Yupik died at 27. It said Yupik died of an aneurism and a ruptured aorta, and called the death “inevitable.”

The zoo said in a statement the death was caused by “natural ailments of an older animal, and Yupik had lived longer than the average lifespan of her species in the wild, of 15 to 18 years.”

Animal rights activists claim officials had resisted efforts to transfer Yupik from the zoo, where average daily highs seldom drop below 70 degrees (21 Celsius). A British zoo reportedly offered to give Yupik a home in a more suitable climate.

View of polar bear named ‘Yupik’ at her pond in Benito Juarez Zoo in Morelia, Michoacan state, Mexico, on March 20, 2018. ‘Yupik’ will be transferred to Yorkshire Wildlife Park in the United Kingdom at the request of Mexican Congressmen and environmentalists, which created controversy among the Zoo authorities. / AFP PHOTO / ENRIQUE CASTRO

The activist group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals said that “Yupik languished alone for more than 25 years in a barren enclosure at a rundown roadside zoo.”

The bear, which was referred to as “Yupi” by some organizations, had a water pool, but temperatures were too high and she had little stimulation in the concrete structure. While the zoo had improved conditions somewhat in recent years, activists say it had been done only under pressure.

The Canadian-based group Zoocheck said the Morelia zoo had reneged on a deal to transfer the bear, apparently citing heart problems. Zoocheck said its team hadn’t found any signs of heart disease when it examined the bear in 2017, and called for further investigation.

View of polar bear named ‘Yupik’ at her pond in Benito Juarez Zoo in Morelia, Michoacan state, Mexico, on March 20, 2018. ‘Yupik’ will be transferred to Yorkshire Wildlife Park in the United Kingdom at the request of Mexican Congressmen and environmentalists, which created controversy among the Zoo authorities. / AFP PHOTO / ENRIQUE CASTRO

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