Polar Bear Nanuq dies at the Columbus Zoo

POWELL, OH (WCMH) — The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium announced that Nanuq the polar bear has died.

Nanuq, the adult male polar bear, was humanely euthanized Wednesday morning after it was confirmed he had liver cancer.

At 29, Nanuq surpassed the life expectancy of a polar bear by about eight years.

The Columbus Zoo now has five polar bears–female polar bear twins, Aurora and Anana, and three 5-month-old cubs (a male and two females).

Nanuq was a geriatric bear with age-related conditions requiring special medical attention that was administered by both the zoo’s veterinary team and his care providers.

Gail Skatzes has been coming to the zoo for years. She saddened by the loss

“Same as I was with Colo. it’s just heartbreaking,” she said.

“He was an old bear and it’s just heartbreaking. Devastating for the zoo. Hopefully they can get another male bear and and we can have more baby polar bears,” said Skatzes.

Nanuq sired four litters at the Columbus Zoo with female polar bears Aurora and Anana.

Columbus Zoo veterinarian Priya Bapodra said the zoo noticed signs of illness in February.

“He was looking a little off, a little depressed. So we went ahead and did an exam earlier in the year and that blood work showed some abnormalities that his liver wasn’t working well,” she said.

“We found he actually had numerous mass in his liver and we suspected that he had cancer.”

“It is always a difficult time when we lose an animal, especially one as beloved as Nanuq,” said Columbus Zoo and Aquarium President and CEO Tom Stalf. “From the time that he was rescued as an orphaned cub, he has been an ambassador to his counterparts in the Arctic, reminding us of the importance of protecting polar bears and their sea ice. The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium will always remember him and continue working to protect his species.”

After his rescue in Alaska in April 1988, he lived at the Henry Vilas Zoo in Wisconsin until 2009 when he was moved to the Buffalo Zoo. There, he fathered female cub, Luna, who was born in 2012. Nanuq came to the Columbus Zoo on Oct. 16, 2012 from the Buffalo Zoo.

“Nanuq was incredibly special to all of us who had the wonderful opportunity to care for him, and we will miss him very much,” said Carrie Pratt, curator of the Zoo’s North American region and Polar Frontier habitat. “We take some comfort in knowing that Nanuq’s legacy will live on through his offspring and those he has inspired to help polar bears in their native Arctic range.”

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