Local News

Second NC Zoo polar bear dies

Posted October 22, 2013

Wilhelm, a 28-year-old male polar bear, died on Oct. 21, 2013, while on loan to the Milwaukee County Zoo, N.C. Zoo officials said.

— North Carolina Zoo officials said Tuesday that their second male polar bear has died.

Wilhelm had been on loan to the Milwaukee County Zoo since September 2011 while the N.C. Zoo underwent an $8.5 million expansion of its polar bear exhibit.

“Over the past couple of days, 'Willie' was not eating and could not stand,” Milwaukee Zoo Curator of Large Mammals Tim Wild said in a statement. “Our veterinary staff did an exam on Willie and found fluid in his abdomen.”

The 28-year-old bear was euthanized, and a necropsy will be done to determine the cause of its illness, officials said.

Wilhelm had been slated to remain in Milwaukee until the renovations to the Asheboro zoo were completed next fall. The N.C. Zoo's female polar bear, Snow Lilly, remains at the Milwaukee Zoo on public exhibit.

Last month, Aquila, a 21-year-old male polar bear, was found dead at the N.C. Zoo. Officials said the bear had a hernia, which led to a stomach rupture and its lungs collapsing.

The N.C. Zoo is working with the Polar Bear Species Survival Program of the Association of Zoos & Aquariums to find animals for the expanded exhibit. Due to climate changes, including habitat loss, wild polar bears have been placed on the endangered list.


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  • EricaSliver Oct 23, 2013

    Oh my goodness! This is so sad. We love the zoo and the polar bears. How tragic!

  • Obamacare rules Oct 22, 2013

    They only have a life expectancy of 25 years in the wild and the longest lived polar bear in captivity was 43 years.

  • devilblue Oct 22, 2013

    Poor Willie. He was so cute.

  • larky74406 Oct 22, 2013

    There is something wrong with the exhibit. It's closed. The bear was in Wisconsin.

  • busyb97 Oct 22, 2013

    Very odd to lose two polar bears after renovating their exhibit. Sounds like they should really recheck that exhibit and make sure there isnt something wrong within it.

  • Pseudonym Oct 22, 2013

    What is going on at that zoo?? They've lost 3 animals in the past 6 months.

  • friendlyman Oct 22, 2013

    habitat loss?

  • Obamacare is here Oct 22, 2013

    Aww, poor guy. Hope he's in a better place now.