It is the end of an era. The Berlin Zoo polar bear habitat's probably final resident, 37 year old Katjuscha, has passed away. She had been suffering from a heart ailment for some time, and had been treated for it, but now, the oldest polar bear in the world had come to the end of her days. She was found by her keepers, in her den, on Christmas Eve morning, it was announced today. She had peacefully died in her sleep.
|Kati, during her afternoon walk.
She was known for her beauty and grace. Visitors would often see her just sitting in the doorway, watching the world go by.
|Katjuscha, watching the world go by
Last year, there were two other lady polar bears in the world who had reached the age of 36: Snow Lily in Milwaukee, and Winnie in Japan, both just several weeks younger than Katjuscha. Now all three are all gone.
|Kati at teatime, in 2014.
Katjuscha was born in 1984 in Zoo Karlsruhe, the daughter of Nadine and Willie. Nadine and Willie were also the parents, five years later, of Antonia, the famous dwarf polar bear. Also in 1989, Willie became the father of Nancy, one of Katjuscha's lifelong companions in the Berlin Zoo, and also Anton, father of Wilbär.
|Tosca in front, Katjuscha in the middle,
and Nancy, top, sleeping, in 2014.
Katjuscha came to Berlin when she was almost a year old, and remained there all her life. At one time, she was part of Lars' harem, the three ladies of the Berlin Zoo: Nancy, Tosca and Kati. The four bears made for quite a sight for Berlin Zoo visitors.
|Katjuscha in 2014, the fluffy one.
Tosca and Lars' son, the famous Knut, was part of the group for a short time too, after Lars left, until young Knut died from a brain disease which tragically caused him to fall into the water and drown.
|Katjuscha watching Nancy and Tosca from her doorway.
After that sad event, it was just the three ladies of the Berlin Zoo. Tosca and Nancy seemed to be best friends, and Katjuscha was on her own. We lost Tosca and Nancy a few years ago, but Kati continued on, well past the expected age of a polar bear.
|Katjuscha in her kingdom in 2019
Now she is gone too, and the polar bear area is empty, save for the nearby memorial sculpture of Knut.
It is truly the end of an era.
|Rest in Peace, sweet lady.