ST. PAUL, Minn. - It's about time things smoothed out for Berlin the polar bear.
First it was torrential rains and flooding that forced the evacuation of the female polar bear from the Lake Superior Zoo to St. Paul, where she was to live at Como Zoo temporarily until her display could be fixed.
Her hard luck continued this October, when zookeepers noticed Berlin was becoming lethargic and unresponsive. Blood tests, ultrasounds and endoscopies all suggested internal bleeding.
Como's team of veterinarians from the University of Minnesota's College of Veterinary Medicine opted for abdominal exploratory surgery to find the cause of the bleeding, and they found and removed a necrotic mass -- tissue that has been killed by disease or trauma.
"As soon as Berlin arrived at the hospital, we knew that we had to move quickly and efficiently," said Jose Mendez, D.V.M., a large animal surgical specialist within the University of Minnesota's College of Veterinary Medicine. "Once we realized that she had evidence of internal bleeding, we took her directly to surgery. It is highly unlikely that she would have survived without surgical intervention."
Como's zookeeping staff reports that Berlin has resumed eating her normal diet, a positive sign that she is recovering. Subsequent blood draws also indicate she is steadily returning to normal.
Berlin was cleared to go back on exhibit last week by the veterinarian. Como's twin polar bears Buzz & Neil appear to enjoy having Berlin back with them and all three are doing well together.
Though few wild polar bears survive beyond 15 to 18 years, polar bears in captivity can live as long as 30 years.
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