NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – The Central Park Zoo’s polar bear has died, officials announced Wednesday.
Gus, the 27-year-old polar bear, was euthanized on Tuesday after showing poor feeding behavior, a low appetite and difficulty chewing and swallowing.
Wildlife Conservation Society veterinarians determined Gus had a large, inoperable tumor in his thyroid gland. A necropsy will be conducted.
Gus lived a long life by polar bear standards. Male polar bears in zoos have a median life expectancy of less than 21 years, according to the WCS.
“Gus was an icon at the Central Park Zoo and a great source of joy for our visitors and staff,” said Jim Breheny, WCS Executive Vice President of Zoos and Aquarium. “He was an important ambassador for his species bringing attention to the problems these bears face in the wild due to a changing environment. Polar bears are apex predators – the kings of their domain, but vulnerable in a world affected by climate change brought on by human activity.”
Gus made several TV and newspaper appearances as the face of the zoo over the years.
The polar bear had been a fixture at the Central Park Zoo since 1988. Zoo officials estimate more than 20 million people have visited him in his lifetime.
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