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Beloved Kansas City polar bear Berlin, oldest in captivity, dies at 33

Polar bears live 15 to 18 years in the wild and more than 23 years in captivity on average, so Berlin lived a very long life.
Berlin, the oldest polar bear in captivity in the United States.
Posted at 9:25 AM, Jan 13, 2023

A 33-year-old polar bear who lived at the Kansas City Zoo for the last decade has died, zoo officials said Thursday.

Berlin was the oldest polar bear in captivity in the United States, “which is a testament to the extraordinary care she received from her animal care and veterinary health teams,” the zoo said in announcing the death.

Berlin was euthanized Wednesday morning.

“Unfortunately, Berlin’s health had significantly declined yesterday morning, and it was determined there were no other additional medical options to improve her condition,” the zoo said in a statement. “She was euthanized surrounded by her caregivers.”

She was being treated for hypertension and kidney failure.

“Berlin will be dearly missed by her Zoo family, including staff, volunteers, and guests,” the zoo said. “The Kansas City Zoo will make its annual contribution from the Zoo’s Conservation Fund to Polar Bears International in memory of Berlin this year to aid in conserving this amazing, vulnerable species and their habitat in the wild.”

Berlin was born Dec. 11, 1989, at the Cincinnati Zoo, a month after the fall of the Berlin Wall. She came to Kansas City after flooding at the Lake Superior Zoo in Duluth, Minnesota, forced her to find a new home in 2012.

Polar bears live 15 to 18 years in the wild and more than 23 years in captivity on average, so Berlin lived a very long life.