‘Much loved’ Coast polar bear dies
GOLD Coast polar bear Liya tragically passed away over the weekend, devastating animal lovers the world over and staff at Sea World theme park.
The famous mother of two died on Saturday aged 19 at the Main Beach theme park and leaves behind her cubs Mishka, who is still on the Gold Coast and Henry, who is in Canada.
Liya was born in Russia, before coming to Sea World in 2001 as part of an international breeding program.
Just this month the Bulletin ran photos of the active bear next to Christmas presents, while chomping into a watermelon.
In a statement Sea World said they were "deeply saddened" by her death.
"Sea World is deeply saddened by the death of much-loved 19-year old Polar Bear, Liya, who passed away unexpectedly at Polar Bear Shores on Saturday night," the statement read.
"Sea World has a long-history of working with marine animals, with over 40 years of experience in animal care, research and rescue. The health and wellbeing of the animals in our care is of the utmost priority and we have a strong reputation for caring for marine animals."
Sea World Head of Marine Sciences Wayne Phillips said Liya lived a long and enriched life at Sea World and her legacy to the ongoing conservation and education efforts of polar bears would continue through her cubs, Mishka and Henry.
"The animals at Sea World are like family and Liya will be greatly missed by all who knew and loved her. In her 18-years at Sea World, Liya has helped generations of park guests gain a better appreciation for polar bears and the marine environment," he said.
"Liya was born in Leningrad Zoo, Russia, and moved to Sea World in 2001 as part of an international breeding program. In the wild, polar bears live on average 15 to 18 years."
Village Roadshow Theme Parks chief operating officer Bikash Randhawa said it was "like losing a family member".
"But that's life as we know it for humans and animals. She did a lot for her species over the years.
"I remember when she first came to the park. These animals are like family - they mean so much to us. At least we know that she had a good life and was cared for by the best team and best facilities are bear could have anywhere in the world," he said.
"We will celebrate her life moving forward and she will be remembered for many years and beyond."