Prague Zoo’s iconic female polar bear Bora has passed away at almost 33 years of age. The bear had to be euthanized after have been in failing health for several months. In nature, 26 years is considered the upper limit for female polar bears, so she exceeded expectations.
She had been showing signs of age for a long time and at the beginning of this year probably suffered a stroke. At that time, her condition still stabilized and she received regular medication. However, as of August 27 she was paralyzed on the right side of her body; probably due to a second stroke. Despite further medication and all the necessary care, there was no chance of improvement.
“I spent 22 years with Bora in the zoo and I am very glad for that. She was a calm bear, but she could assert herself and had a love of food for which she would do almost anything. The fact that I could participate in the rearing of her daughter Berta, I consider a great fortune,” Prague Zoo chief breeder Denisa Zběhlíková said on Facebook.
The zoo described Bora as a “laid-back, phlegmatic member of the polar-bear species [who] is not really into the whole water thing.” People were most likely to see her lounging on the bank even in the summer.
Bora was born in Vienna Zoo on November 20, 1986 and was raised by her mother. As a 2-year-old, she left for Dvůr Králové Zoo in then-Czechoslovakia, and when that zoo decided not to keep polar bears any more, Bora moved to Prague, where she arrived September 10, 1997.
She eventually formed a couple with a male bear named Alík. After two unsuccessful attempts, Bora gave birth on December 2, 2003, to a healthy bear cub. “Although the cub was initially christened Albert, a boy’s name, it turned out later that he was actually a she, so the keepers rechristened her Berta. She is still in Prague Zoo,” the Zoo states on its website. Alík passed away in 2005 at the age of almost 27 years.
Bora was also involved in raising Tom, who arrived at the zoo at the age of 2 from Brno in 2009. Until her health declined, she would play with the cub until she was exhausted.