Polar bear at NC Zoo dies

Posted November 17, 2014

Patches, a 26-year-old female polar bear, died at the North Carolina Zoo on Nov. 16, 2014.

— For the second time in 14 months, a polar bear has died at the North Carolina Zoo.

Patches, a 26-year-old female that arrived a year ago from the Erie Zoo in Pennsylvania, died Sunday after weeks of declining health, zoo officials said.

A necropsy revealed that Patches had an extensive lung mass suggestive of lung cancer. In recent weeks she had become lethargic and uninterested in food, according to Ken Reininger, the zoo’s general curator, and Dr. J.B. Minter, the zoo’s senior veterinarian.

“In the wild, the average life span of a polar bear is 15 to 18 years old,” Dr. David Jones, director of the zoo, said in a statement. “Patches was 26 years old. She exceeded wildlife expectations by living a long life. She will be greatly missed by the zoo’s staff and visitors.”

Last September, Aquila, a 21-year-old male, was found dead at the N.C. Zoo after suffering a hernia that led to a stomach rupture and its lungs collapsing.

Anana, a 15-year-old female polar bear, arrived at the zoo last month from the Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago. She will remain in Asheboro until construction on Lincoln Park Zoo’s polar bear exhibit is completed in 2016.

The N.C. Zoo is finishing an $8 million expansion of its own polar bear exhibit.


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  • JustOneGodLessThanU Nov 24, 2014

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    Ummm...I'm vegan...haven't even eaten animals or their by-products for decades, so you may want to rethink that "you want to destroy all polar bears" stuff when someone says that arctic animals may be uncomfortable in NC. I'm on your side. :-)

  • Jon Gregory Nov 18, 2014
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    RIP Patches. Rainbow bridge is waiting for you.

  • FVHowler Nov 18, 2014

    Ironically, it feels like the north pole in NC... right now!

  • Lorna Schuler Nov 18, 2014
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    Yes, their natural habitat is best. However, there are a large number of animals in zoos that would no longer exist if they were not in zoos, cared for and bred.

    So I guess that some of you would be ok with the complete extinction of these magnificent animals?

  • Richard Eskridge Nov 18, 2014
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    ...due to the effects of Obamacare...

  • JustOneGodLessThanU Nov 18, 2014

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    I hear ya. It's like those people here who insist on have Arctic Husky dogs and other cold-weather breeds...

  • CherryDarling Nov 18, 2014

    Awwwww! :(

  • Barbara Sossomon Nov 18, 2014
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    Patches lived almost twice as long as she would have in the wild. I would say she had a good life.

  • Itsmyopinion67 Nov 18, 2014

    It's because of man-made global warming! Polar Bears are dying all over North Carolina! Wake up people!

  • Naysayer Nov 17, 2014

    The Polar beers are the best exhibit at the NC Zoo, bummer.