Polar bear euthanized at Point Defiance Zoo

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A polar bear was euthanized at the Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium on Sunday morning after a rapid decline in his health.

Blizzard, who was rescued as an orphaned cub in Churchill, Canada, came to the Point Defiance Zoo in 1997.

The bear had been diagnosed with liver cancer in September 2021, and had been receiving chemotherapy and other care to slow the progression of the cancer.

Dr. Karen Wolf, head veterinarian for the zoo, said Blizzard’s quality of life deteriorated quickly over the past week, and the staff had to make the difficult decision to humanely euthanize him.

Primary results of a necropsy showed Blizzard’s liver cancer had grown to the size of a giant watermelon.

“The entire Point Defiance Zoo family is devastated by the loss of this extraordinary bear,” said Point Defiance Zoo director Alan Varsik. “Blizzard held a special place in our hearts and touched the lives of millions of people during the two decades he was with us. He inspired people to care deeply about polar bears and to take action in their own lives to reduce their carbon footprint and help protect wild polar bears.”

Blizzard was 26.

Point Defiance Zoo has been home to polar bears for more than 80 years and is certified by Polar Bears International as an Arctic Ambassador Center.