The Great Plains Zoo announced (June 7) that 23-year-old Kenai the Brown Bear succumbed to an aggressive form of cancer today. Kenai arrived at the zoo, with her brother Smokey, when she was only six months old, back in 1994.

She has been a "favorite of both zoo staff and visitors" for as long as she has been a member of the animal community, according to President and CEO of the Great Plains Zoo, Elizabeth Whealy.

The fast-growing cancer which took Kenai's life was not observed during an annual veterinarian exam 6 weeks ago and was only discovered recently. The zoo's veterinarial staff consulted with other veterinarians and surgeons across the country looking for treatment options.

However it was determined that because of Kenai's size (600 lbs.) and the rapidly advancing cancer there wasn't an effective therapy available and the decision was made to humanely euthanize her.

Our veterinary and animal care teams manage end-of-life care with the comfort of their patient as a top priority, much like hospice care for humans. Not only was our team of caretakers able to effectively manage Kenai’s pain, they made her last days fun and comfortable with some of her favorite treats and activities." - -Great Plains Zoo President & CEO Elizabeth Whealy

The Great Plains Zoo Brown Bear exhibit is scheduled to open next spring and will eventually be home to four brown bears.

I had the distinct honor of meeting Kenai two years ago at the zoo and I can tell you she was as beautiful as she was impressive. I know what a loss this is to the zoo and I also know she will be missed and remembered as the zoo moves forward without her.

Source: Great Plains Zoo


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