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Indianapolis polar bear dies after move to Detroit Zoo

USA TODAY logo USA TODAY 27/09/2016 Daniel Bethencourt

DETROIT — A 29-year-old female polar bear named Tundra, who arrived at the Detroit Zoo just a few months ago from Indianapolis, died Monday morning after battling a sudden illness.

The bear’s health had been declining since early Sunday, and zoo officials euthanized her after tending to her through Sunday night and Monday morning, the zoo said in a Facebook post. The exact illness was not determined, though a necropsy will be performed to try to find the cause.

“We are happy we were able to provide Tundra with a great home for the short period of time she was with us,” the zoo said. “Our hearts go out to the animal care staff and visitors — both in Detroit and Indianapolis — who knew and loved her.”

Staff decided to move her to the Detroit Zoo in Royal Oak, which advertises one of the largest polar bear habitats in North America. That habitat is called the Arctic Ring of Life, a 4-acre exhibit with indoor and outdoor portions that also features a pool that holds 300,000 gallons.

Tundra the polar bear. © Mark R Kaser Tundra the polar bear. Scott Carter, chief life sciences officer for the Detroit Zoological Society (DZS), told the Indianapolis Star in June: “The Arctic Ring of Life is an incredible facility for this polar bear to spend the remainder of her golden years.”

In her brief time at the zoo, she was popular among visitors who could see her in the The Arctic Ring of Life, which also holds two 11-year-old polar bears named Talini and Nuka, as well as three foxes and five seals.

Tundra also had an unusually long life. Polar bears in captivity have an average lifespan of 21-24 years, while wild polar bears pass away even sooner: about 15 to 18 years. Lifespans increase in captivity because of better health care and nutrition, the Detroit Zoo has said.

Contributing: Paul Egan, Detroit Free Press, The Indianapolis Star and the Associated Press. Follow Daniel Bethencourt on Twitter: @_dbethencourt 


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