They say the good die young. Sometimes, they grow old first.
That was the case for Koluk, a 26-year-old polar bear that has called the ABQ BioPark home since the late 1990s. The City of Albuquerque announced Koluk was euthanized on Friday “after his health rapidly declined this week.”
BioPark officials said the decision was made after staff discovered Koluk had severe liver and kidney disease during a recent checkup.
Koluk was still ahead of the curve of his bear-thren as most only live 20 years in captivity and up to 18 in the wild, according to a release sent out Friday. Koluk’s twin brother and exhibit-mate Kiska is still in good health and remains active, but is now the BioPark’s lone polar bear.
Officials said Kiska “adjusted well as a solitary bear” during Koluk’s illness.
The release states Koluk and Kiska were born in November 1996 at Utah’s Hogle Zoo and moved to the BioPark in October 1997.
“Koluk was one of the most playful animals at the BioPark, and he was a favorite among guests and staff,” Casey Taylor, ABQ BioPark assistant mammal curator, said in a released statement. “We are so fortunate to have cared for Koluk, and we are heartbroken with this loss.”
Koluk’s “playful demeanor was constant” even into his old age, when he still held a “fondness for diving into the pool to catch fish and ice treats,” according to the release. Koluk reportedly developed “deep levels of trust” with staff which helped when it came to various exams and “was a key component of his robust health and long life.”
The release states that Koluk was diagnosed with heart disease in 2019 and put on medication to manage his condition. In recent days staff saw “a lack of appetite, sluggishness and stiffness” in the bear.
A full exam was given on May 19 and staff discovered Koluk was suffering from severe liver and kidney disease, according to the release. Since then staff gave “supportive care” to Koluk and additional testing showed the disease was progression.
BioPark staff then made the decision to euthanize Koluk.