Polar bear dies at Tucson's Reid Park Zoo

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By Bryce Potter By Bryce Potter
By Bryce Potter By Bryce Potter

A popular attraction at the Reid Park Zoo in Tucson for nearly a decade has died.

The zoo announced on Monday that Boris, the polar bear, died following what was thought to be a "routine" medical procedure Friday.  An initial necropsy did not reveal a cause of death, but officials say they suspect a reaction to the anesthesia used in the procedure.

Boris was born at the Denver Zoo and was brought to Tucson in 2001.

He had some medical issues in the past and zoo officials, in a news release, say he had been exhibiting some "unusual" behavior recently.  That included loss of appetite, lethargy, foot sensitivity and agitation. 

He was tranquilized by the zoo staff on Friday so they could conduct a complete physical on the animal.

Susan Basford, the administrator of the Reid Park Zoo, said, "We were all shocked and saddened by his death.  Unlike the death of an elderly animal you are preparing to lose, the death of an animal like this is devastating."

There is one other polar bear at the zoo.  Kobe, a female, is doing well the staff reports, but has cut off access to the public for her.  The staff says since polar bears are "solitary" in nature, there is no immediate concern for a replacement.