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Oldest polar bear in human care in North America dies in Milwaukee at 36

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Posted at 12:54 PM, Sep 25, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-25 14:55:37-04

MILWAUKEE — The Milwaukee County Zoo announced sad news Saturday — the beloved polar bear at the zoo, Snow Lilly, has died. The decision was made to humanely euthanize her due to declining health and subsequent quality of life concerns.

She came to Milwaukee from the Bronx Zoo in 2005.

Snow Lilly was the oldest living polar bear in human care in North America at 36 years old. The Association of Zoos and Aquariums says the median life expectancy for polar bears in human care is 23.4 years.

“Snow Lilly was a visitor favorite at the Zoo and considered one of the iconic animals in the population,” said Zoo Director, Amos Morris. “She will be sorely missed by both staff and visitors. As a geriatric bear, animal care staff closely monitored her and watched for signs of any discomfort or decline in her quality of life. For her comfort, in the recent years she was provided with Vitamin A supplements and medication for joint health. Snow Lilly could interact with enrichment items daily that encouraged natural behaviors and kept her mind and body active up until the end.”

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Keepers at the zoo say she loved swimming in her pool in the summer, apples, peanut butter and molasses.

An animal autopsy will be performed to collect information that will be vital to helping other polar bears in human care.

Snow Lilly will be sorely missed.

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