During a heartbreaking couple of weeks, two polar bears residing in the United States have died.
After first learning of the shocking passing of Szenja, at SeaWorld San Diego on April 18th, came news yesterday that Nanug, the patriarch of the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, had been euthanized on Wednesday of this week after being diagnosed with liver cancer.
According to the Columbus Dispatch, at 29 years old, Nanuq, was considered “a geriatric animal, with age-related health problems that required special medical attention.” While he initially seemed to improve with treatment for his cancer, zoo officials declared that further treatment would have been “high-risk, ineffective and possibly inhumane.”
The week before, it was revealed that Szenja “unexpectedly” died of what many speculate was due to a broken heart. As addressed in a recent Care2 post, Szenja desperately missed her best friend, Snowflake, who had been transferred from SeaWorld to the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium for breeding.
“It is unfortunate that Snowflake and Szenja have lived their entire lives in captivity, and inhumane that SeaWorld would attempt to separate them after a 20-year friendship,” noted Julie Stankiewicz, who started a Care2 petition that garnered more than 56,000 signatures, urging that they not be separated.
SeaWorld ignored the public outcry, insisting the breeding visit was necessary because polar bears are listed as threatened on the endangered species list.
“We will not be distracted by organizations with a clear anti-zoo agenda creating false narratives not grounded in any scientific fact,” spokesman David Koontz said, following Szenja’s death, in a statement on April 19th. He further claimed, despite a significant decrease in her appetite and energy level, that Szenja “did not demonstrate any adverse behavioral changes following Snowflake’s transport to the Pittsburgh Zoo in February as part of the Species Survival Plan (SSP) breeding visit.”
It will be several weeks before the Necropsy results are revealed.
SeaWorld’s contention that polar bears “are typically solitary animals in the wild,” is especially weak because Szenja and Snowflake were obviously not “in the wild” but rather held together, in confinement for more than two decades.
According to defenders.org, despite facing challenges including poaching and global warming, The World Conservation Union (IUCN) estimates that there are between 20,000-25,000 polar bears in the world.
In closing, Care2 referenced how SeaWorld ended its orca shows following significant backlash and drop in attendance after the release of the documentary “Blackfish.”
If ever there was a time for SeaWorld to also permanently close its Wild Arctic exhibit, it is now!