Changing Planet

“World’s Oldest Polar Bear” Dies in Winnipeg Zoo

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“It is with great sadness that Winnipeg’s Assiniboine Park Zoo must advise that Debby the polar bear — one of the world’s most-famous and loved bears — was euthanized … surrounded by her caring zookeepers and veterinarians,” the zoo announced this week.

An exam indicated multiple organ failure.

Born in the Russian Arctic in 1966, and arriving at the Assiniboine Park Zoo as an orphaned cub in 1967, Debby was entered into the 2008 Guinness Book of Records as the oldest living polar bear. She was 42. “Many children who admired Debby in her youth, later brought their own children and grandchildren to meet this great ambassador of the North,” the zoo said in a statement.

“Debby played a dominant role in the Winnipeg zoo’s animal family for over four decades, generating great public appeal and important contributions to the zoo’s interpretive programs,” the statement said. “She epitomized what one orphaned animal can achieve in promoting the conservation of her species and other wildlife in light of mounting ecological and environmental challenges like global warming.”

The zoo said it was unable to acquire a new polar bear without a new enclosure being built to meet conservation standards.

Photo courtesy Assiniboine Park Zoo

Forty years in U.S., UK, and South African media gives David Braun global perspective and experience across multiple storytelling platforms. His coverage of science, nature, politics, and technology has been published/broadcast by the BBC, CNN, NPR, AP, UPI, National Geographic, TechWeb, De Telegraaf, Travel World, and Argus South African Newspapers. He has published two books and won several journalism awards. He has 120,000 followers on social media. David Braun edits the National Geographic Society blog, hosting a global discussion on issues resonating with the Society's mission and initiatives. He also directs the Society side of the Fulbright-National Geographic Digital Storytelling Fellowship, awarded to Americans seeking the opportunity to spend nine months abroad, engaging local communities and sharing stories from the field with a global audience. Follow David on Facebook  Twitter  LinkedIn

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