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Polar bear euthanized at Point Defiance Zoo

Post by Stacia Glenn / The News Tribune on April 18, 2012 at 5:20 pm with 11 Comments »
April 19, 2012 6:52 am

A polar bear at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium was euthanized Wednesday after his right side became paralyzed and he could no longer stand or walk.

Kenneth, the oldest of four bears at the zoo, has lived there since 2002.

Staff biologists noticed Monday that the 27-year-old bear was having trouble moving but he showed some improvement after treatment, zoo veterinarian Holly Reed said. A follow-up exam Tuesday revealed no broken bones, but Reed suspected possible neurological damage.

When Kenneth lost mobility in his right front leg, zoo staff decided Wednesday morning to euthanize the bear because he already had severe arthritis in his right rear leg and would be rendered paralyzed on one side.

“We focus on quality of life with these bears,” Reed said about why Kenneth was euthanized.

Kenneth weighed 870 pounds and was born in Canada, according to zoo records. He and Boris, another polar bear, were brought to Point Defiance a decade ago after U.S. Fish and Wildlife agents seized them from a Mexican traveling circus in Puerto Rico.

Zoo officials said Kenneth was approaching old age for a bear in captivity. Polar bears rarely live to be 20 years old in the wild.

The zoo’s other polar bears are Blizzard and Glacier.

Leave a comment Comments → 11
  1. dontbesilly says:

    Always sad when we lose one of our beloved animals from PDZA. :-(

  2. fanciladi says:

    Yes, very sad! :(

  3. fivecardstud says:

    It’s a shame that humans have the need to cage a living , breathing animal just for viewing enjoyment. I’m wondering why not cage people from different parts of the world so we can watch them interact with each other.

  4. How sad but wasn’t it a bit premature. The headline gave the impression that the bear had already become paralysed. Perhaps it wouyld have been too hard to take care of him until that eventuality. I had to let a dog go but only after he did not recover from his paralysis.

  5. alindasue says:


    With rare exceptions (if there are any), all the animals in the zoo were either born in captivity or are animals that were rescued and unable to be reintroduced into the wild.

    All of the zoo’s sea otters were rescued. Homer, the oldest, was a victim of the Exxon-Valdez spill. At 24 years old, she has lived a good long life in the care of the zoo. The average life-span for sea otters is 15 years.

    Kennith was rescued from a traveling circus. He also managed to have a happy and longer than average life-span in the care of the zoo.

    It used to be that zoo’s were just for putting animals on exhibit. I remember the tiny little bear cages they had back in the ’60s. Now the focus is more on the animals themselves and species preservation and recovery. The displays are set up now for the animals’ comfort – not always the most optimal viewing for the humans, but offering places for animals to hide or go off display when they want to.

    If you haven’t been to the zoo in a couple decades, it might be worth your while to check it out and see what’s changed.

  6. tacomajoe says:

    There are lots of small children and animals who live within a few miles of the zoo. If this bear ever escaped he could hurt someone, or worse.

    Tacoma is a lot safer for this bear’s passing.

  7. Ortingmom says:

    On to a better place Kenneth…rip

  8. javabilliards says:

    The fact is there are many more “predators” surrounding the area of the zoo and the children and families are in greater risk of those “animals” then that bear would have ever been to Tacoma. Prayers to the staff who have cared for him for so long..<3

  9. tacomajoe says:

    javabilliards, I don’t think you understand the nature of polar bears. They look cute and Coca-Cola has reinforced this image with a series of clever commercials, but it is their nature to be remorseless killers.

    Walruses are natural enemies of polar bears, and are one of the few animals capable of taking one down. Why didn’t they turn this polar bear loose in the walrus cage (that’s what it is, people) and give Kenneth the opportunity to go out with some dignity?

  10. Tacomajoe, take your meds and go back to sleep, you are irritating the grown-ups

  11. They need to move or will get arthritis just as a person would if they do not move much. I’m glad the bear was never taken to a hot climate in Latin America to live out his life in misery.

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