Five-year-old polar bear showing signs of illness dies at Winnipeg zoo - InfoNews

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Five-year-old polar bear showing signs of illness dies at Winnipeg zoo

A polar bear has died at the zoo in Winnipeg. Assiniboine Park Zoo says the five-year-old bear named Blizzard, shown in a handout photo, died on Monday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Assiniboine Park Zoo MANDATORY CREDIT
January 29, 2019 - 12:04 PM

WINNIPEG - An orphaned polar bear rescued in northern Manitoba has died at a zoo in Winnipeg after being put under anaesthetic to investigate an apparent illness.

The five-year-old bear named Blizzard died on Monday and director of veterinary services Chris Enright said they are still looking into what caused the death.

"It is always sad when we lose one of our beloved animals at the zoo, but a loss under these circumstances is particularly challenging," Enright said Tuesday.

"Blizzard was a beautiful bear and he will be dearly missed by zoo staff, visitors and volunteers."

The 272-kilogram bear started acting lethargic and wasn't eating much about two weeks ago. The veterinary team decided to anesthetize the bear to figure out what was going on. After a full assessment the bear was given antibiotics and in the following days, it seemed like he was getting better.

"Diagnosing a bear is a challenge," Enright said.

Over the weekend Blizzard started showing signs of illness.

Enright said the veterinary team once again decided to anesthetize the bear, but in the course of waking Blizzard up the bear experienced respiratory distress and died.

The necropsy, an animal autopsy, found there was inflammation and fluid in the bear's chest and some abnormalities with Blizzard's heart. Enright said fluid in the chest is unusual and can be a sign of infection, but until more tests have been done, he can't say what ultimately killed the bear.

Bears in captivity can live to their mid- to late-20s.

Blizzard and his sister Star came to the Assiniboine Park Zoo in 2014 when they were only around a year old. They had been spotted near Churchill but the cubs' mother was never found.

Enright said the siblings quickly adapted to zoo life.

"He was just one of those bears that was relaxed from the get-go," Enright said. "He went through some periods of time when he was a teenager where he was a bit of a surly teenager but basically, he was just a hungry boy."

There are nine polar bears left at the zoo.

Another polar bear named Eli died at the zoo in 2017. Veterinarian's ruled that trauma was likely the reason for the nearly three-year-old-bear's death.

Enright said there is no indication the deaths were related in any way.

News from © The Canadian Press, 2019
The Canadian Press

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