A polar bear at San Diego SeaWorld died suddenly after her girlfriend of 20 years was shipped away to another zoo.
Szenja and Snowflake were a pair of female polar bears living together at the San Diego SeaWorld’s Wild Arctic exhibit for the past two decades, nearly their entire lives.
But recently, Snowflake was sent away to the Pittsburgh Zoo to be mated with male polar bears.
Soon after, Szenja died.
The San Diego Tribune writes:
Her death came following week-long symptoms of appetite and energy loss, but her passing remains unexplained. SeaWorld will be conducting a necropsy to determine the cause of death, park officials said. It will be several weeks before the necropsy results will be available.
But animal rights activists have a diagnosis: a broken heart.
Tracy Remain, Vice President of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals said:
After losing her companion of 20 years when SeaWorld shipped Snowflake to the Pittsburgh Zoo in order to breed more miserable polar bears, Szenja did what anyone would do when they lose all hope, she gave up.
PETA had previously spoken out against the park’s decision to send Snowflake away.
A video taken not long after Snowflake’s departure shows Szenja walking around the enclosure with a plastic toy in her mouth. The video’s description refers to the toy as “her new little friend,” adding, “Szenja’s polar bear roommate Snowflake had just left for a stay in Pittsburgh and this plastic yellow construction guy showed up.” Not much of a substitute to a flesh-and-blood companion of 20 years.
SeaWorld has come under fire in recent years for its treatment of animals. A 2013 documentary Blackfish about the death of a SeaWorld employee from a killer whale attack showed the ugly side of the park’s history, and argued that keeping orcas in captivity is dangerous and cruel.