Hogle Zoo in Utah has revealed that its 19-year-old polar bear Rizzo was suffering from end-stage kidney failure. Veterinarians eventually decided to euthanize the bear late Saturday afternoon.
Rizzo Diagnosed With Renal Failure
The zoo earlier said that they were starting to provide end-of-life care for the bear after she was observed having trouble keeping food down and being lethargic.
Hogle Zoo officials said that the polar bear had renal failure, a terminal condition characterized by the kidneys not able to work properly and cannot efficiently filter waste from the blood. Renal failure is common in older polar bears.
Rizzo was diagnosed through a series of tests which include an endoscopic exam of its gastrointestinal tract, abdominal ultrasound, and blood test.
Nancy Carpenter, Hogle Zoo's director of animal health, said that it was immediately apparent that there were abnormalities and swelling. Rizzo's blood test, for instance, showed that the kidney values were very high.
The animal was given anti-nausea and anti-inflammatory medications as well as plenty of fluids in an effort to flush her system and make her comfortable.
A Difficult Decision
Rizzo was monitored hour-by-hour until it was later decided that she would be euthanized given her terminal condition. Zoo officials were already aware earlier that they will eventually have to make the difficult decision.
"Our veterinary and animal care teams monitored her closely, hour-by-hour yesterday. Throughout the afternoon her condition began to decline and she had trouble keeping food down," Hoggle Zoo said in a statement. "Due to her terminal diagnosis, the very difficult decision was made to humanely euthanize Rizzo, sparing her any discomfort. She passed peacefully, without any pain."
Ambassador For Climate Change
Rizzo came to Hogle Zoo in 2012 when the polar bear exhibit Rocky Shores opened giving visitors chance to see what a polar bear, the largest land carnivore in the world, looks like when it is under water.
The zoo did not have any polar bear for nine years before that albeit it already had a prior history of caring for these animals and even had more than 10 cub births between 1957 and 2003.
Rizzo served as an animal ambassador for climate change, a pressing global issue that threatens the extinction of species of animals. The warming world is blamed for the loss of sea ice that threatens the survival of the polar bears especially those that live in the wild.
Hogle Zoo's Facebook page received many messages from guests sharing their experience with the bear after the zoo announced the animal's condition. Some thanked the zoo for taking care of Rizzo.
"Thank you for providing Rizzo an excellent home built to address her animal welfare for her to live out her golden years and giving her top notch care," Facebook user Grayson Ponti commented in response to the zoo's announcement.
"Your polar bear exhibit is one of the best in the nation and I hope you continue to exhibit the species as ambassadors to the wild to educate generations of people about how amazing they are!"