The zoo said Berlin, 33, had recently struggled with hypertension and renal failure, for which there was no cure. Staff at the zoo made the polar bear more comfortable with various treatments, but her health significantly declined Wednesday morning, according to the facility.
Zoo staffers made the decision to euthanize her while she was surrounded by caregivers, after determining there were no more treatment options.
The polar bear was the oldest in the United States, according to the zoo.
Berlin was born at the Cincinnati Zoo in December 1989, just a few weeks after the Berlin Wall fell, which led to her unique name.
She made headlines in 2012 while living at the Lake Superior Zoo in Duluth, Minnesota. The zoo flooded, and Berlin “famously swam to the perimeter wall of her habitat where she waited until staff arrived and discovered her,” the KC Zoo said in a release.
Berlin arrived in Kansas City a few months later and lived at the zoo for over a decade.
“Her animal care specialists commended her big personality and described her as ‘smart
and sassy’ and say she gave all of her caregivers ‘a run for their money!'” the zoo wrote in a statement.
The Association of Zoos and Aquariums indicates that the median life-expectancy of a polar bear in an accredited facility is 23.4 years. The species lives only around 15-18 years in the wild, Polar Bears International says.
“The Kansas City Zoo will make its annual contribution from the Zoo’s Conservation Fund to Polar Bears International in memory of Berlin this year to aid in conserving this amazing, vulnerable species and their habitat in the wild,” the zoo said.