World's oldest polar bear dies at Canadian zoo

VANCOUVER, British Columbia Tue Nov 18, 2008 11:30pm GMT

VANCOUVER, British Columbia (Reuters) - Canadian zoo officials on Tuesday were mourning the death of what is believed to be the world's oldest polar bear.

The 42-year-old bear named Debby died on Monday at a zoo in Winnipeg, Manitoba, where she had lived since 1967 after being captured as a orphaned cub in the Russian Arctic in 1966.

Debby was in declining health due to her advanced age, and veterinarians decided to euthanize her after it was discovered she had suffered multiple organ failure.

She was listed as the world's oldest polar bear by the Guinness Book of World Records when she turned 41, according to officials at the Assiniboine Park Zoo.

Debby gave birth to six cubs at the zoo where she lived for many years with a male bear, Skipper, who died several years ago at age 34, according to the zoo.

Polar bears in the wild can live more than 30 years, but most do not survive even to age 20.

(Reporting Allan Dowd, editing by Rob Wilson)

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