Former, beloved Lake Superior Zoo polar bear Berlin dies

Berlin(Northern News Now)
Published: Jan. 12, 2023 at 3:12 PM CST
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DULUTH, MN. (Northern News Now) - Berlin the Polar Bear, a former staple at Duluth’s Lake Superior Zoo for many years, died this week at the age of 33.

She was the oldest polar bear in human care in the U.S.

Berlin came to the Lake Superior Zoo as a one-year-old cub in 1990.

Berlin(Northern News Now)

She was joined shortly after by her long-time friend Bubba.

The two of them charmed locals and tourists alike with their playful nature and beauty, zoo officials said.

But, during the floods of June 2012, the water rose to such a height in Berlin’s habitat that she was able to climb up onto a rock near it.

She was successfully tranquilized by the now retired zoo veterinarian, Dr Louise “One heck of a shot” Beyea.

Since Berlin’s habitat had been damaged beyond repair, she was transported to the Como Zoo where she joined their polar bear population.

Berlin(Northern News Now)

She later went to her final destination at the Kansas City Zoo.

In Kansas City Berlin, at the age of 23, was introduced to Nikita, a 6-year-old male.

The hope of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums through the Species Survival Plan was that despite her age, they may produce cubs to add to the small population of polar bears in zoos in the United States.

While the pair seemed to fair well together that hope never came to fruition because Nikita was sent to North Carolina where a young female awaited.

Berlin lived out the rest of her years happily at Kansas City Zoo.

Berlin(Northern News Now)

It was shared that Berlin appeared to purposely plant seeds from a melon she was given.

She then waited patiently for vines to grow and fruit to ripen before harvesting and eating from her “garden.”

For the past several months she had been treated for systemic hypertension diagnosed using a copper-plate-based ECG.

There is no cure for the disease but zoo staff were able to make her more comfortable through various treatments.

Unfortunately, Berlin’s health had significantly declined Wednesday morning.

It was then determined there were no other additional medical options to improve her condition.

Berlin was peacefully euthanized surrounded by her caregivers.

Director of Animal Management at the Lake Superior Zoo, Lizzy Larson said, “I was one of Berlin’s caretakers for 3 years and the thing that I will remember most about Berlin was how incredibly smart she was. Everything Berlin did, had a purpose. She could solve every puzzle we gave her and I never found a toy she didn’t like! I will fondly remember how enthusiastically she would jump into her pool to play. She has had the best care at all the facilities she’s had the chance to live at and I know that she has touched countless hearts in her 33 years of life. We will all be mourning her loss.”