Klondike: Philadelphia Zoo’s Oldest Polar Bear Dies At 34

Klondike, the oldest polar bear in the United States who resided at Philadelphia Zoo, has died at the age of 34.

Klondike, who was born at the Bronx Zoo in 1980, was brought to the zoo in October 1981, and has been a favorite attraction among the zoo-goers. Over the past two weeks, however, Klondike’s health started deteriorating quickly, leaving her barely able to stand or walk, Philly.com reports. She started treatment for a urinary tract infection and her mobility issues. However, she showed no signs of improvement, leaving the zoo with no other alternative but to euthanize her. General curator Kevin Murphy said in a release that Klondike will be “greatly missed.”

“She will be greatly missed by our staff,” Murphy said. “In addition to the joy she brought guests over more than three decades, she has been an important ambassador to wild polar bears, who are increasingly threatened by climate change and resulting shrinkage of polar ice.”

The zoo made the announcement that Klondike had died on Friday morning on their Facebook page. In a lengthy statement, the zoo explained what had happened, and said she would be missed by everyone who worked at the zoo, and those that visited.

“Philadelphia Zoo is sad to announce that Klondike, our 34-year-old female polar bear, was euthanized this morning due to the recent and substantial decline in her medical condition. Zoo animal care staff confirmed that she had a noticeable deterioration in her health approximately two weeks ago, including difficulty standing and walking after lying down,” the statement read.

“After a complete physical exam the veterinary team treated her for a urinary tract infection as well as mobility issues. Despite treatment, there was no significant improvement in her condition, and given her advanced age and poor prognosis, zoo staff decided that the best decision would be to humanely euthanize her,” the statement continued. “At 34 years old, Klondike exceeded the typical lifespan for her species, and was the oldest polar bear in the country. Our remaining polar bear Coldilocks, also 34, now becomes the oldest polar bear in the U.S.”

“In addition to the joy she brought our staff and guests over three decades here, she has been an important ambassador to wild polar bears, who are increasingly threatened by climate change and resulting shrinkage of polar ice. We hope she has inspired many to make commitments in their daily lives to reduce energy and water use, which will contribute to efforts to slow climate change.”

The Philadelphia Zoo has one remaining polar bear named Coldilocks, who is also 34 years old. He is now the oldest polar bear in the nation. The typical lifespan for a polar bear in captivity is 24 years old.

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According to Defenders.org, polar bears are the largest land carnivores in the world, and feed primarily on seals. An adult males normally weigh 350 pounds to more than 600 kilograms (775 to more than 1,300 pounds). Adult females tend to be a bit smaller, normally weighing 150 to 295 kilograms (330 to 650 pounds). The largest polar bear ever recorded weighed 1,002 kg (2,209 lb.) and measured 3.7 m (12 ft.) long.

The bears are found in Canada, which is home to approximately 60 percent of their population, the U.S. (Alaska), Greenland, Russia, and Norway (the Svalbard archipelago). In 2008, the World Conservation Union (IUCN) estimated that there are between 20,000 and 25,000 left in the world. In the wild, the animals tend to have a lifespan of 15 to 18 years.

[Photo via Facebook/Philadelphia Zoo]