Soosha, 25-year-old Denver Zoo polar bear, dies after "severe decline in health"

Cranbeary the polar bear is no stranger to loss or heartbreak. Two years ago, she lost her mate, Frosty, who died of liver cancer at the age of 25, just one month after Cranbeary arrived at the zoo to er, become acquainted with him. And last week, Cranbeary's aunt, 25-year-old Soosha, was euthanized after what the zoo terms "a severe decline in health." At the end, Soosha refuse to eat or take her medications, the zoo says.

Here's the official word from the zoo:

Soosha, a beloved 25-year-old female polar bear at Denver Zoo, passed away March 14, 2012. The elderly bear was euthanized after a severe decline in health. The longevity of polar bears is 20-25 years.

"It is always difficult to make this type of decision. Despite our best efforts to help her, Soosha's quality of life declined severely over the last few months. As hard as it is, this was the right thing to do. She will be missed by us all very much," says Denver Zoo Vice President of Veterinary Medicine Dr. Scott Larsen.

Soosha began to show increased joint pain, decreased mobility and lethargy the past few months. Although she received medications for her joint pain, she did not return to her normal self. Multiple medical examinations did not offer conclusive information as to why Soosha began to decline food and eventually quit eating altogether. On March 14, veterinary staff humanely euthanized the bear that had not eaten or accepted pain medications her last few days.

"Soosha was adored by zoo staff and our community. She was well-known and loved. Her death is even more difficult because it is the end of an era. She was the last of the iconic Denver Zoo polar bears that came to Northern Shores in 1987," says Denver Zoo spokesperson Tiffany Barnhart.

The zoo could have more polar bears -- baby polars bears! -- soon, however. Late last year, ten-year-old Cranbeary got a new mate when twelve-year-old Lee came to live in Denver. Just as zoo staff hoped, the two bears hit it off. They now spend their days splashing and snuggling and -- fingers crossed! -- making cubs.

See an adorable photo and an even more adorable video (with commentary!) below.

More from our News archive: "Denver Zoo welcomes 11,000-pound male elephant Groucho."

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Melanie Asmar is a staff writer for Westword. She joined the paper in 2009 and has won awards for her stories about education, immigration and epic legal battles. Got a tip? She'd love to hear it.
Contact: Melanie Asmar

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