Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium veterinarians say they’re working with specialists to craft a treatment plan for a 19-year-old polar bear recently diagnosed with liver cancer and heart disease.
The health problems were initially discovered as a result of a routine Feb. 21 physical examination of Glacier, a bear who came to Point Defiance in 1997 after being orphaned in the wild. A follow-up electrocardiogram confirmed the heart issues, and an abdominal ultrasound test showed a malignant liver tumor, the zoo said.
Dr. Karen Wolf, the zoo’s chief veterinarian, said the zoo is working with outside veterinary consultants to assess the bear’s condition more exactly and to create a treatment plan.
“We are using every diagnostic tool available to assess Glacier’s condition as we formulate a treatment plan for him,” she said.
A more sophisticated computed tomography scan will show the dimensions of the tumor and will help doctors determine if the cancer has spread to other organs.
“Polar bears are listed as a vulnerable species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature,” the zoo said in a prepared statement. “The median life expectancy for a male polar bear in the wild is 20.7 years, according to statistics from the Association of Zoos & Aquariums.”
Point Defiance has two other polar bears, Blizzard, 19, and Boris, 29. Polar bears are on exhibit in the zoo’s Arctic Tundra area.