Oldest known polar bear in the world dies at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium

Oldest known polar bear in the world dies at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium
Boris, a 34-year-old polar bear believed to be the oldest in the world, died Tuesday at the Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium. (Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium)

A 34-year-old polar bear, believed to be the oldest in the world, died Tuesday at the Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium.

Boris had to be euthanized due to his deteriorating health.

“This is a very sad day for us,” said Alan Varsik, director of Zoological and Environmental Education for Metro Parks Tacoma. “Boris held a special place in the hearts of our staff and our community.”

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Boris came to the Point Defiance Zoo in 2002 after he was rescued from a traveling circus. Zoo officials said he was scrawny, malnourished and mistreated.

Several other zoos stepped up to take him and five other bears to provide them with a home and expert care. Boris was the last surviving member of that group.

“We were pleased we could give him a home when he was rescued from the circus,” Varsik said. “But we are even happier that Boris became a beloved ambassador for his species, inspiring our guests to take action that can help polar bears in the wild.”

Seven years ago, Boris gained recognition after pictures of him undergoing a dental procedure at the zoo circulated around the world on newspapers and online.

“We cared for Boris as long as possible with a combination of groundbreaking medical treatment and daily TLC,” Wolf said. “But he had increasing difficulty getting up, had recently fallen, and his quality of life had declined dramatically. We did not want him to suffer. His loss will be felt deeply around the Zoo.”

Boris surpassed the median life expectancy of 23.4 years for male polar bears in human care. Generally, they live about 15 to 18 years.