Cincinnati Zoo Polar Bear 'Little One' Has Passed Away

Little One was humanely euthanized at 31 years old. He was the oldest male polar bear in U.S. zoo population.

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click to enlarge Little One the polar bear - Photo: DJJAM Photo
Photo: DJJAM Photo
Little One the polar bear

The Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden said goodbye to its 31-year-old polar bear Little One on Saturday. The geriatric polar bear was humanely euthanized due to renal failure and his quickly diminishing health. 

Little One was the oldest male polar bear in the U.S. zoo population at the time of his death, living far beyond the median life expectancy of 21 years old. He was born at the Cleveland Zoo on Dec. 13, 1989, and moved to the Cincinnati Zoo in 2007. 

A release from the zoo credits the polar bear's longevity to his supreme care from the zoo's bear team. "The bear team provided daily enrichment, a nutritious diet specifically designed for a geriatric bear, and a comfortable environment inside and out," the release says. 

Little One is described as being "easy-going" with a "great disposition" from head bear keeper Lisa Vollman. Another bear keeper, Lisa Potter, also nodded to the polar bear's easy-going attitude and reminisced about his "leisurely armpit scratches" in the release. 

Since wild polar bears are found in very remote areas, studying them is difficult. It is estimated that roughly 26,000 wild polar bears remain. The Cincinnati Zoo teamed up with Polar Bears International as an Arctic Ambassador Center to raise awareness about conserving the vulnerable species. 

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