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Polar bear in German zoo died from zebra virus

Published on Aug 17, 2012 8:49 PM
 
A female polar bear rests in the water in her enclosure at the zoo on June 19, 2012 in Berlin. A polar bear in a German zoo died and its companion barely survived after they fell sick with a mutated encephalitis virus that originated in zebras, scientists say. The incident happened in Wuppertal Zoo, western Germany, in 2010. -- PHOTO: AFP

PARIS (AFP) - A polar bear in a German zoo died and its companion barely survived after they fell sick with a mutated encephalitis virus that originated in zebras, scientists say.

The finding is a concern, for it shows how rare species in zoos can be at risk from species-jumping pathogens, they say.

The incident happened in Wuppertal Zoo, western Germany, in 2010, when a female bear called Jerka and her male companion Lars fell ill with encephalitis.

"The symptoms were quite shocking, and it was completely unclear at the time what was causing them," Wuppertal vet Arne Lawrenz said in a press release issued on Thursday.

 
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