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Polar bear dies after eating coat and bag
Anton the polar bear is no more. Photo: DPA

Polar bear dies after eating coat and bag

Published: 11 Feb 2014 10:05 GMT+01:00

The 25-year-old polar bear died on Sunday night after a desperate operation to try to get him to vomit up the ill-advised snack failed, Wilhelma Zoo officials confirmed.

Anton had been behaving somewhat strangely for days, his keepers said, but it only became clear what was wrong when he started spitting out bits of material. The zoo vet gave him a drug to make him vomit, and he produced more pieces of a jacket and bag.

"There must have been something very tasty in there, something Anton simply couldn't resist," said his keepers Andreas Wössner and Jürgen Diesenhofer. Generally he just ripped up things that fell into his enclosure, they said.

How and why the coat and bag got into Anton's enclosure remains unclear. But the electrified fences which surround it failed to stop around 200 children's shoes from being thrown into the water over the last 20 years - along with around 50 babies' dummies, countless hats, cameras, phones and pairs of glasses.

Vet Tobias Knauf-Witzens appealed to visitors to do their best to inform zoo staff about such losses. "If we had known that something was in the enclosure we might have been able to save Anton," he said.

The bear could easily have lived another 10 or 15 years had he not eaten the coat and bag. He died of severe internal injuries and inflammation, an initial examination suggested.

He is not the first animal to die at Stuttgart zoo as a result of eating things he should have left alone. A hippo called Egon died a number of years ago of intestinal obstruction after swallowing a tennis ball, and Charly, the last elephant seal in the zoo died after swallowing a teddy bear.

READ MORE: Knut autopsy 'most in-depth' in animal world

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