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Central Park polar bear passes at age 27

New York City's famous (and supposedly depressed) polar bear, known as Gus, has died at the age of 27 after fighting cancer.

Polar bear zooEnlarge
A polar bear stands during feeding at Hagenbeck Zoo in Hamburg, northern Germany, on October 10, 2012. The new Eismeer (polar sea) has been open for 100 days at the zoo. (MARCUS BRANDT/AFP/Getty Images)

Gus, New York City's famous Central Park Zoo polar bear, has died at the ripe age of 27 after battling cancer complications — leaving a hole in the heart of many critter-loving city dwellers. 

The popular polar bear had been lethargic and disinterested in eating, and a health check showed that he had an inoperable tumor,wrote the New York Times. Zoo officials made the tough call to euthanize him on Tuesday. 

Read more from GlobalPost: Environmental toxins found in polar bear brains 

Wild polar bears live to around age 15 or 18, while captive bears can live considerably longer: a Canadian zoo bear lived to be 42 years old, according to Polar Bears International. 

Gus made headlines in the 90's for his supposed mental health issues, after zoo officials grew concerned with his  obsessive swimming habits. 

It's estimated that more than 200 million people paid a visit to Gus during his stay at the Central Park Zoo, where he first arrived in 1988, says the Associated Press. 

"It's heartbreaking staring at the empty tank," said zoo visitor Sean Stewart to the New York Daily News. "It's terrible, but what can you do? There aren't many polar bears left."

Stewart has a point: world polar bear numbers are dropping, and zoo populations may prove important in protecting the species in the face of global warming and habitat destruction. Psychological concerns aside. 

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/science/wildlife-news/130828/central-park-polar-bear-passes-at-age-27