A polar bear at SeaWorld San Diego died suddenly after her companion was taken to another zoo for a breeding programme.
"Szenja was a beloved member of our animal family, so this is a very hard day for all of us", Al Garver, SeaWorld San Diego's vice president of zoological operations, said in a statement. While the official cause of death is still pending necropsy, some believe her separation from another polar bear, 20-year companion Snowflake, may have caused Szenja's downward trajectory.
Szenja was a beloved member of our animal family, so this is a very hard day for all of us.
Ohio's Columbus Zoo and Aquarium is showing off its five-month old female polar bear cub, and it's asking visitors to choose a name for the adorable 75-pound creature. The pair lived together in the exhibit for 20 years.
Szenja was born at a zoo in Germany in 1995.
Szenja lived at the park for almost two decades.
Tracy Remain, executive vice-president of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), said Szenja had died of a "broken heart".
The park said almost 50 million guests have met Szenja over the years and she was essential in providing education, research, and awareness of polar bears globally.
PETA says that the death of Szenja should be a "wake-up call" to SeaWorld to stop the practice of shipping animals over long distances and forcing them to breed.
Polar bears can live about 18 years in the wild and 20 to 30 years or more in captivity.
The two brilliantly white bears caused commotion in March when SeaWorld announced their plans to separate the two buddies for Snowflake to be bred again in Pittsburgh, with no return date made public, KNSD reported. The animals are threatened by climate change, poaching, pollution and a rapid loss of sea ice in the wild.