Zoo Gives Up Aging Polar Bear To Give Her A Better Life

Tundra the bear will get a bigger home and won't be alone anymore.

15/06/2016 7:07 AM AEST | Updated 21/06/2016 2:03 AM AEST

It’s hard to let go of an old friend, but sometimes it’s for the best.

The Indianapolis Zoo will be closing its polar bear exhibit and moving Tundra, a 29-year-old polar bear, to better facilities in Detroit, the zoo announced Monday. Releasing Tundra, who was born in captivity, into the wild isn’t realistic, zoo spokeswoman Carla Knapp told The Dodo.

A visitor takes a photo of Tundra at the Indianapolis Zoo in May.

“The zoo’s veterinary staff carefully reviewed all of the options and agree that the Detroit Zoo is the perfect facility for Tundra’s needs as a senior bear,” the Indianapolis Zoo wrote in a news release. “Considered one of the leading polar bear facilities in the world, the Detroit Zoo offers large spaces and pools​ with easy slopes for Tundra to enter and exit the water, especially as she gets older.” 

The zoo wrote that while its own polar bear habitat was “state-of-the-art” in 1988, it needs updating, and moving Tundra is in her “best interest.” It added that she’s currently healthy, and it makes sense to move her now, before she gets any older. She'll be there sometime after June 22.

And now, Tundra won’t be alone. She’ll be joining Talini, a female born at the zoo in 2004, and Nuka, a male who arrived at the zoo in 2011. The Detroit Zoo’s Arctic Ring of Life, where the polar bears live, is four acres in size and includes a 190,000-gallon salt water pool, a fresh water pool and both a pack ice area and a grassy tundra. 

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Talini as a 9-month-old cub with her mother, Barle at the Detroit Zoo in 2005. Barle was rescued from a Puerto Rican circus in 2002.

Animal advocates praised the Detroit Zoo in 2005 when it announced that it would be moving its two Asian elephants to a large sanctuary in California, saying that the zoo simply could not provide the amount of room that elephants should have.

"We want animals to thrive, not simply survive," executive director Ron L. Kagan told The Dodo last month.

We certainly hope Tundra thrives there.

Correction: A previous version of this story said the Detroit Zoo moved its elephants to a sanctuary last month. It was in 2005.

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