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Polar bear dies in Assiniboine Park Zoo

A two year-old polar bear who was brought to Assiniboine Park Zoo along with his brother in October 2015, died Saturday.

Metro File

A young polar bear has died at the Assiniboine Park Zoo. 

In a prepared statement, zoo officials explained Eli, a 2-year-old polar bear who moved into the Zoo's Leatherdale International Polar Bear Conservation Centre with his brother in October 2015, died Saturday.

Gary Lunsford, the Sr. Director Animal Care & Conservation at Assiniboine Park Zoo, said staff are "deeply saddened by Eli’s passing."

"He was a part of our zoo family and this is a heartbreaking loss for our staff and visitors," he said. 

According to the statement sent to media Sunday, Eli began showing signs of illness on Friday. Apparently, his condition had deteriorated considerably by Saturday.

To better evaluate the cause of illness, staff anesthetized the bear; Eli died shortly after.

A preliminary autopsy revealed to veterinary staff that Eli had experienced swelling in the throat and neck, which could have interfered with his breathing.

Based on that early diagnosis, zoo officials believe other polar bears and animals are not in any risk of any related illness.

The zoo will complete a full pathology report to further investigate Eli's death. More details are expected, Monday. 

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