Three bears die of cold in plane grounded at Belgium airport

FILE PHOTO: Hana, a female sloth bear, inspects her new home at the Asia Trail area of the National Zoo in Washington

By Marine Strauss

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Three sloth bears have died of cold after being left in a plane stranded by snow and ice in Liege airport, Belgian newspaper SudInfo reported on Monday.

A total of nine sloth bears were on the plane, which was en route from Peru to Qatar, before being stuck in transit at the airport in Liege, in Grâce-Hollogne, Belgium, according to SudInfo.

"We are going to look at what are the responsibilities and what sanctions should be taken in light of that," Walloon minister for animal welfare Celine Tellier told Bel-RTL radio.

Sloth bears, also known as honey bears or "lippus", are listed as vulnerable on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species. They are often captured to be trained as dancing bears.

(Reporting by Marine Strauss; Editing by Bernadette Baum)