Gus the polar bear, a longtime resident of New York’s Central Park Zoo, has died.
The Wildlife Conservation Society says veterinarians euthanized Gus on Tuesday upon discovering an inoperable tumor in the bear's thyroid region. Gus had shown signs of feeling unwell in the days and weeks leading up to his death.
Gus was 27 years old, which is old age for his species given that the average life expectancy for a male polar bear is between 20 and 21.
He was born in the Toledo Zoo in 1985 but spent his last 25 years in New York where officials estimate more than 20 million people visited him.
In the ensuing years, the bear drew attention for his obsessive daily swimming routine. A psychiatrist even studied Gus back in 1994, eventually recommending an enrichment program that included moveable items for Gus to investigate.
"Gus was an icon at the Central Park Zoo and a great source of joy for our visitors and staff," said Jim Breheny, executive vice president with the Wildlife Conservation Society. "He was an important ambassador for his species bringing attention to the problems these bears face in the wild due to a changing environment.”
Gus spent the last two years alone after his companion, Ida, died in 2011.