26-year-old female polar bear dies at NC Zoo

ASHEBORO, NC (AP) — Officials at the North Carolina Zoo say Patches, its 26-year-old female polar bear, has died after several weeks of declining health.

General curator Ken Reininger and senior veterinarian Dr. J.B. Minter said a necropsy, which is an animal autopsy, showed Patches had an extensive lung mass suggestive of lung cancer.

Zoo director David Jones said polar bears usually have a life span of between 15 to 18 years and she exceeded wildlife expectations.

Patches died just weeks short of her 27th birthday. She was born at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, Nebraska, and was moved to the Erie Zoo in Pennsylvania in December 2007. When the Erie Zoo started a major construction project in November 2013, Patches was moved to the NC Zoo.

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