Salt Lake City, UT (April 9, 2017) – Rizzo, the beloved 19 year-old polar bear that lit up Rocky Shores, has passed away.
After a long week of attentive care, Hogle Zoo veterinary and animal care staff made the difficult decision to humanely euthanize Rizzo. She was in renal failure; a terminal condition in which the kidneys cannot filter waste from the blood.
Zoo veterinarians and animal care staff kept Rizzo comfortable and monitored her on an hour-by-hour basis. Her condition began to decline throughout Saturday afternoon and she struggled to keep food down.
Rizzo passed comfortably and pain free.
“We announced her condition yesterday knowing how much she meant to the community,” said Erica Hansen, Community Relations Manager. “We were hoping we had more time.”
As per regular Zoo procedure, veterinarians will perform a necropsy (animal autopsy) to give her a thorough medical work-up and to contribute further to the science and study of this majestic species.
“How do you thank a bear who has brought so much to the lives of so many?” said Hansen. “Our Facebook page has been flooded with our guests sharing photos and memories. She just brought so much joy – we will miss her everyday.”
Renal failure is not an uncommon condition in older polar bears (median life expectancy of a female polar bear is 24 years).
She came to Hogle Zoo in 2012 with the opening of Rocky Shores; heralding the end of a nine-year polar bear hiatus. Rizzo arrived with a big splash garnering oohs and aahs from an adoring community seeing, for the the first time, what a polar bear looks like from underwater.
Utah’s Hogle Zoo has a long and successful history of caring for polar bears beginning, roughly, before 1957 to 2003 and seeing over 10 successful cub births. The Zoo is committed to the preservation of this magnificent species and has chosen the polar bear as one of its “Big Six” – The Zoo’s six signature conservation species.
Rocky Shores was designed as a long-term breeding and conservation facility. The Zoo will work with AZA (Assoc. of Zoos and Aquariums) and the Species Survival Plan (SSP) to determine how to proceed following Rizzo’s passing.