GREAT BEND, Kan. — A beloved grizzly at the Great Bend Zoo has died.
Winnie the Grizzly was found dead Monday morning during routine rounds. The 10-year-old is believed to have died sometime overnight.
The zoo says the grizzlies have all been staying in their stalls since mid-November and have been spending most of their time sleeping as bears do in winter. Keepers noticed on Saturday that Winnie didn’t seem interested in his food as normal, which according to the zoo, is not abnormal behavior for winter.
The zoo says when keepers saw he still seemed interested on Sunday, they gave him some electrolytes and were able to get him to eat a little bit of food.
A preliminary necropsy shows that Winnie somehow developed gastric torsion, where his stomach became twisted and rotated, cutting off the blood supply. The condition is extremely dangerous, and unfortunately often fatal.
The zoo says only an exploratory surgery would have found the problem, something they say is not easy to do with an animal his size. The zoo says they did find some other abnormalities during the necropsy that they have seen to Kansas State University for testing.
“Our staff is absolutely devastated by this unexpected loss and would appreciate your respect during their grieving process. We consider these animals to be a part of our family and losing one of our family members takes a significant toll on our staff. Winnie’s siblings, Piglet and Pooh, appear to be handling it as expected and will have each other and their keepers during their grieving process.”
For more information about the Great Bend Zoo, click here.