Central Park Zoo's popular polar bear dies

Central Park Zoo's popular polar bear dies

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Gus, the much-celebrated polar bear at the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Central Park Zoo, has died. He was 27 years old.

The Wildlife Conservation Society says veterinarians euthanized Gus on Tuesday. He had a large, inoperable tumor.

Gus was under anesthesia for a medical procedure conducted by WCS veterinarians. Gus had been exhibiting abnormal feeding behavior with low appetite and difficulty chewing and swallowing his food. During the procedure, veterinarians determined Gus had a large, inoperable tumor in his thyroid region. A necropsy will be conducted to determine the full pathology of the condition.

The median life expectancy for male polar bears in zoos is less than 21.

Gus was a media favorite and appeared in many local and national newspapers and television newscasts as the face of the Central Park Zoo.

Officials estimate more than 20 million zoo-goers visited Gus. They say he drew attention to the effects of climate change on bears in the wild.

He'd been at the Manhattan zoo since 1988. He was born in Toledo, Ohio.

In 1994, concern developed over his repetitive swimming pattern. An enrichment program was designed that included moveable items for him to manipulate. Experts also had Gus forage for food to keep his mind and body healthy.

Gus outlived two longtime female companions, Ida and Lily.

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