(WORCESTER, MA) — Kenda, the EcoTarium’s beloved polar bear, died Monday, after a medical exam confirmed that she had developed kidney disease, a degenerative disease common in older polar bears. The exam followed a recent and worrisome change in appetite, weight and behavior for the 27-year-old bear. Due to the rapid deterioration of her health and her bleak prognosis, the decision was made to humanely euthanize Kenda.
Kenda, who was born in 1983 at the then-Worcester Science Center to parents Ursa Major and Ursa Minor, would have been 28 years old on December 1. She was the first polar bear to be born in New England. Named Kenda, meaning “child of cool waters,” in a naming contest sponsored by the Worcester Telegram & Gazette, she quickly became a celebrated member of the Central Massachusetts community, visited by thousands of families each year.
Kenda’s last physical exam took place in September 2010, as part of a procedure to treat a sore on her leg, which had been healing well. During that exam, Kenda’s routine blood work showed signs that could indicate an onset of kidney disease. Her medical and care staff have monitored her closely for months, conducting daily visual exams and working with her to ensure she was eating properly. In recent weeks, when Kenda began to refuse food and exhibit a change in behavior, her care staff ordered a medical exam. Kenda’s tests showed a decline in kidney function and other abnormalities, confirming a diagnosis of rapidly progressing kidney disease.
In addition to the care provided by the EcoTarium’s dedicated Wildlife Team, Kenda’s medical care has been managed by veterinary experts from the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University, who also provided medical care for her mother, Ursa Minor.
“While it would be inhumane to allow any animal in our care to suffer, that doesn’t change the fact that this was a very difficult decision. Kenda was a member of the family to all of us at the EcoTarium,” said President Stephen M. Pitcher. “We are deeply saddened by her loss, and we know that our community feels this great loss along with us.”
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