NC Zoo polar bear dies
Posted September 10, 2013
Asheboro, N.C. — North Carolina Zoo officials said Tuesday that, for the second time in a week, an iconic animal has died at the Asheboro zoo.
Aquila, a 21-year-old male polar bear, was found dead in his off-exhibit holding quarters when keepers arrived for work around 7 a.m.
General curator Ken Reininger said Aquila had shown no previous signs of illness and appeared in good condition when keepers left Monday evening.
Zoo Senior Veterinarian Dr. Ryan DeVoe said Aquila had suffered from a “diaphragmatic hernia.” Part of the stomach had become entrapped in the hernia, causing the stomach to rupture, he said, which led to the animal's lungs collapsing.
Aquila's death comes one week after the zoo lost its adult male gorilla, Nkosi, to a yet-to-be identified illness. The zoo is still awaiting laboratory test results to help determine the gorilla’s cause of death.
Aquila was one of a set of triplet polar bears – two males and a female – that became the first bears to be exhibited in the N.C. Zoo’s polar bear exhibit when it opened as part of the zoo’s new 200-acre North America exhibit region in August 1994. Both of the siblings died previously.
He had returned to the N.C. Zoo in April after a two-year stay at the Detroit Zoo. He and the zoo’s other male polar bear, Wilhelm, had been sent to other zoos two years ago as the zoo began an $8.5 million renovation and expansion of its polar bear exhibit.
Wilhelm remains at the Milwaukee Zoo and no decision on the timing of his return has been made. Construction on the expanded exhibit is expected to be complete in fall 2014.