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Cincinnati Zoo mourns loss of polar bear "Little One"

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Posted at 4:14 PM, Mar 27, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-27 17:26:05-04

CINCINNATI — The Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden announced it is mourning the loss of a beloved polar bear named "Little One" Saturday.

Zoo officials said Little One was humanely euthanized Saturday due to renal failure and a rapid decline in his health and quality of life. Little One was the oldest polar bear in U.S. zoo population, living 14 of his 31 years of life at the Cincinnati Zoo.

“Over my 30 plus year career, I’ve had the privilege of caring for 17 polar bears in two zoos. All of them have been amazing animals to care for,” said Cincinnati Zoo’s head bear keeper Lisa Vollmer. “Saying goodbye is always hard, and it was especially hard with Little One. He was one of the most easy going bears I’ve ever worked with and had a great disposition. His passing leaves a huge hole in hearts of all of us who cared for him. Rest in peace Little One. We love you and you will be missed.”

The zoo said the median life expectancy for a male polar bear is 21.

“He was such a great bear. Very easygoing. The cutest thing about him was how he did those leisurely armpit scratches,” said Cincinnati Zoo bear keeper Lisa Potter.

Little One was born at the Cleveland Zoo to parents Snowball and Nauyat on December 13, 1989, and came to Cincinnati in 2007. The zoo said Little One was matched with several females over the years, but he never had offspring.