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Being separated from someone you care about is one of the worst feelings. You think about them constantly, wondering when you’ll be able to see them again. Well, humans aren’t the only ones that form such strong bonds. Polar bears do too. After being separated from her polar bear friend, Szenja, a captive polar bear, passed away at SeaWorld in San Diego this week.

The 21-year-old female had been without her friend Snowflake for two months after Snowflake, the only other polar bear at SeaWorld San Diego, was shipped to a zoo in Pittsburgh at the end of February for breeding purposes, with no return date. Szenja’s keepers said she had been showing signs of lethargy for a week and also lost her appetite. SeaWorld says that it could be several weeks before the cause of death is given, but let’s be honest, it’s pretty clear Szenja died of a broken heart.



Szenja has never known a life outside of captivity. She was born at a zoo in Germany in 1995 and then brought to Sea World two years later when the park opened its Wild Artic Exhibit. The average lifespan of polar bears in the wild is between 25-30 years and they are native to the arctic circle, where they have evolved to roam large sheets of ice, nothing like the climate in San Diego.

The next time you think of taking a trip to your local zoo, think again. Life for wild animals in zoos is stressful, boring and most of all, miserable. These animals have been stolen from the wild, dumped behind bars in concrete enclosures, sometimes even pumping the animals full of antidepressants, and then the animals are left to live out the rest of their lives in a place they’ll never be able to call home. To zoos, they are disposable, there solely to make a profit.

But progress is being made. In 2016, SeaWorld agreed to stop breeding captive orcas at all of its locations and in January of 2017, SeaWorld San Diego officially ended their orca performances, marking the last time a captive whale would be forced to perform mindless tricks in front of audiences at the park. With millions of people learning the truth about marine captivity, thanks in part to the documentary Blackfish, it’s only a matter of time before SeaWorld is a thing of the past.

The best thing you can do to help these animals in captivity is to avoid visiting SeaWorld and zoos altogether. Help us honor Szenja by sharing this article with your friends and family why they should reconsider going to the zoo. We must continue the fight to #EmptyTheTanks and help ensure wild animals stay in the wild.


Image source: Quad Finn/Twitter

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0 comments on “Polar Bear Dies at SeaWorld San Diego After Her Only Companion Was Sent Away”

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Muriel Servaege
2 Months Ago

Heartbreaking. They should have thought a bit more at the San Diego zoo. Animals are sentient beings, not objects.

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1 Years Ago

SeaWorld has profited off of mammals and animals for so long, stealing them from their natural habitats and separating families for years!!!! Imprisoning these majestic beings in captivity, using their life force for profit. Such a sick organization, I hope that SeaWorld owners and Shareholders are held accountable one day for their crimes against nature. All for the love of money, such a sick sick Organization. SEAWORLD IS HELL.

Bradford Hatcher
1 Years Ago

The better zoos serve a much higher purpose than Sea World does. Their captive breeding programs are keeping several species from going extinct. I don\'t think you\'d see this kind of thoughtlessness at the San Diego Zoo.

Marian Hill
25 Apr 2017

I agree. Without zoos, so many people would grow up with no exposure to these animals. As children, they learn to love these animals. When they grow up, they support their preservation and care around the world. Zoos may not be what we consider ideal, but good zoos are laid out well, the animals are treated well, and breeding programs are successful. Without these zoos, apathy toward these animals will destroy them.

M Leybra
26 Apr 2017

Please name all the species that SD Zoo kept from going extinct, short term, so far.

Drew Noel
30 Apr 2017


You\'re on a computer. Google it.

Kathryn A Irwin
1 Years Ago

Whom ever SeaWorld put in charge of this display & care of the Polar Bears should be fired! I have trouble as a senior figuring out who I could possibly leave my cat with if & when I die. There are emotions, personalities & concern for another caregiver\'s real ability to love your little friend. How anyone could do this to this lovely loving creature is beyond words & absolutely reprehensible. Anyone really caring for the welfare of zoo animals would have had compassion for these bears & found a way to sustain their relationship. This absolutely rips at my broken heart strings. I cannot imagine the pain this creature must have felt & the forlornness they had for each other.

1 Years Ago

Pathetic !!! ( The demands of public decency stop me from writing my true thoughts. )

1 Years Ago

This is just so sad. Humans cause such pain and suffering, when will we learn? Probably after most of the animal and plant species we know today are extinct. The future is bleak but it can be prevented which is sad too.

Willful ignorance is a disease, it is not bliss for those affected.

Nanette Valencia
1 Years Ago

Poor angel, God bless her

Irmina Zalewska
1 Years Ago

why the authority do such a cruel thing. They should be together. Please change the law

1 Years Ago

The authority in charge knows what will happen when a pair are separated! Take them home!


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