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Detroit Zoo: Tundra the polar bear dies at 29

Mark Hicks
The Detroit News

Tundra, considered one of the oldest polar bears in captivity, has died, Detroit Zoo officials announced Monday.

The 29-year-old had “appeared seriously ill on Sunday morning and was examined by our veterinarians, but the cause of her illness was not evident on examination,” zoo officials said in a statement on their Facebook page.

Overnight, staff noted her declining condition and “significantly diminished” quality of life, the zoo said.

“We made the difficult but humane decision to euthanize her this morning,” read the Facebook post. “A necropsy will be performed to try to understand the cause of her decline.”

Tundra had relocated to Metro Detroit in June after her previous home, the Indianapolis Zoo, permanently closed its polar bear exhibit.

Officials decided the Detroit Zoo, with its Arctic Ring of Life habitat, offered a better place for the polar bear as she aged.

Polar bears typically have an average life span of 15-18 years in the wild and 21-24 years in zoos, experts said.

“We are happy we were able to provide Tundra with a great home for the short period of time she was with us,” the Detroit Zoo said Monday. “She was a favorite of Detroit Zoo visitors who loved watching her enjoy the 300,000-gallon pool at the Arctic Ring of Life. Our hearts go out to the animal care staff and visitors – both in Detroit and Indianapolis – who knew and loved her.”