Cleveland Zoo mourns loss of polar bear - 19 Action News|Cleveland, OH|News, Weather, Sports

Cleveland Zoo mourns loss of polar bear

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Aurora (Source: Cleveland Metroparks Zoo) Aurora (Source: Cleveland Metroparks Zoo)

Cleveland Metroparks Zoo is saddened to report the death of its female polar bear, "Aurora." The 30-year-old bear had been showing signs of steadily deteriorating health for the last several months.

Last spring, Zoo veterinarians gave the bear a thorough exam and found evidence of liver cancer. The veterinarians determined that the cancer was at such an advanced stage that treatment was not a viable option. Since then, Aurora's keepers and the veterinary staff kept a close watch on her behavior for signs of discomfort and to monitor for quality of life issues.

Over the last two days it was determined that her condition had significantly worsened and the Veterinary and Animal Care staff made the difficult decision to euthanize her on Monday.

"It's never an easy decision to euthanize an animal," said the Zoo's General Curator, Andi Kornak. "Aurora enjoyed a long life and she was a favorite of both guests and staff. But her condition was beyond treatment and we made the humane choice after assessing her quality of life."

Aurora was born at Cleveland Metroparks Zoo on November 13, 1982. She did some traveling before finally returning to Cleveland in 2001, spending time in the Ruhr Zoo in Gelsenkirchen, Germany, the Milwaukee County Zoo and the Henry Vilas Zoo in Madison, Wisconsin.

Female polar bears have an average life expectancy of 24 years in zoos. Polar bears are the largest land predator in the world, capable of reaching up to 8 feet long and 1,600 pounds for a full-grown male. They are classified as "vulnerable" in the wild by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

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