Saturday, August 1, 2020

Sadness at the Como Zoo - Buzz died

Buzz plays

Today the sad news came that one of the Como Zoo twin brothers had died. At only the age of 24, Buzz's health had deteriorated to the point that he had no quality of life. I had not been expecting this news.

Buzz and the bucket
Neil and Buzz were born in the Louisville Zoo December 9, 1995, named for the first men to walk on the moon. Their parents were Skeena and Irsinaki. Their brother Ulu became the father of Berit, longtime resident of the Cincinnati Zoo. Another brother Icee already was father of Berlin and Yukon born in the Cincinnati Zoo. 

The decision was made to neuter them, so the twins could stay together year round. At that time, there were a lot more polar bears in zoos, and everyone thought their genes were well represented. 

Buzz gets into a milk carton
Thus the twins have been together all their lives. They lived in the San Diego Zoo from 1997 to 2001, then came to the Como Zoo in St. Paul Minnesota, where they have enjoyed nice snowy winters. In order for their enclosures to be renovated and expanded, Neil and Buzz moved to the Detroit Zoo for two years, returning to Como in 2010. While in Detroit, they especially enjoyed playing with Talini, the young daughter of circus polar bear Bärle. 

Buzz was a silly boy
Their home in Como now has a center training area, a big area to the right with live trout to catch in the pool, and another big area to the left with a swimming pool, grass and trees, and a lots of dirt piles and a trench.

Buzz on land, Neil swimming. It seemed like it was that way a lot.

Buzz and the Blue Ball

Neil in back, Buzz in front

Buzz on land
Their niece Berlin came to stay for six months in the summer of 2012 when a flash flood wrecked her home in Duluth. Buzz got along very well with the bossy old lady. Berlin is the daughter of their late older brother Icee. Berlin moved on to the Kansas City Zoo. 

Buzz greets his niece Berlin, who came to live with them for awhile after she escaped from her flooded zoo enclosure in Duluth. She was older, the daughter of their brother, so Neil and Buzz were her uncles.
Photo by my daughter, Corinna Troth
The twins also had some grizzly bears take over their right hand enclosure for a couple of years, due to a flood in Minot ND, and polar bear cubs Suka and Sakari also took over that spot for awhile. So it seemed that someone was always coming or going, with lots to do.

Play Ball, or what is left of it.
 Buzz was always the brother in charge, and Neil went along with whatever Buzz said. Buzz also seemed to be more interested in doing things, playing with toys, digging in the trenches, while Neil mostly wanted to swim. 

Buzz with yet another toy
Both brothers were involved with a revolution in medical methods, having been the second and third polar bears to be trained to put their paws into a metal sleeve for blood draws. This eliminates the need to anesthetize the bear. 

More fun toys
It will be hard for Neil with his brother gone. He always looked up to Buzz to lead the way. I am afraid he will be a little bit lost.

Buzz loved to get dirty. And now it is time for a nap. Sleep well, beautiful boy.