After a brief battle with an aggressive cancer, the Great Plains Zoo announced today (June 6, 2017) that Kenai the Zoo's 23 year-old brown bear has died. Kenai had lived in the Zoo's bear exhibit since 1994 when she was six months old. Her brother Smokey died in 2012.

“Kenai was a charismatic and intelligent animal and was a favorite among Zoo staff, as well as our visitors,” Elizabeth A. Whealy, President & CEO of the Great Plains Zoo and Delbridge Museum of Natural History said in a statement. “We are grateful to the Zoo’s veterinary staff and zookeepers who gave Kenai the best possible care through her entire life, and made her final days comfortable.”

Kenai's cancer was diagnosed after a biopsy was taken of a mass on her leg. Consulting with other veterinarians and surgeons across the country, the Zoo staff searcher for treatment options. But, due to the aggressive nature of the cancer and Kenai’s large size, an effective treatment could not be found. In the end, a decision was then made to humanely euthanize Kenai.

“Our veterinary and animal care teams manage end-of-life care with the comfort of their patient as a top priority, much like hospice care for humans,” said Whealy. “Not only was our team of caretakers able to effectively manage Kenai’s pain, they made her last days fun and comfortable with some of her favorite treats and activities.”

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