Polar bear dies unexpectedly at SeaWorld San Diego

Jane Richards
April 21, 2017

A polar bear brought to SeaWorld San Diego when the park's "Wild Arctic" exhibit opened in the late 1990s died Tuesday.

Her companion, Snowflake, was shipped off to a zoo in Pittsburgh at the end of February for breeding purposes.

"This lively cub weighs approximately 60 pounds and enjoys exploring, rolling in dirt, swimming, playing with her mom, and napping so she can get a second round of energy!" the Zoo announced. Even still, her death was unexpected, according to park officials.

Szenja was a beloved member of our animal family, so this is a very hard day for all of us.

Polar bears can only expect to live until they are about 18 in the wild whereas those in captivity, such as Szenja, often live into their late 20s.

In a news release, SeaWorld pointed out that for many years, Szenja served an ambassador for arctic animals, raising awareness of polar bears among the almost 50 million guests who have visited Wild Arctic.

She lived alongside Snowflake in the enclosure for around 20 years and the two females developed a deep friendship. The pair had been living together for 20 years.

"Szenja, the bear left behind alone at SeaWorld's San Diego park, died of a broken heart, PETA believes".

But recently, Snowflake was sent away to the Pittsburgh Zoo to be mated with male polar bears.

PETA says that the death of Szenja should be a "wake-up call" to SeaWorld to stop the practice of shipping animals over long distances and forcing them to breed. "Until it does, this ship will keep sinking".

In addition, she participated in various research studies related to polar bears' hearing sensitivity, social habits, reproductive hormones and more.

The bear made a positive impact on tens of millions of park guests that had the chance to see her over the past 20 years, he said. The animals are threatened by climate change, poaching, pollution and a rapid loss of sea ice in the wild.

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