Ottawa Citizen

Zoo polar bear put down after getting West Nile



The Toronto Zoo’s beloved 540- kilogram polar bear, Kunik, was euthanized after contractin­g West Nile virus, experts confirmed yesterday. “ To my knowledge, this is the first polar bear to die of the virus,” said Dr. Ian Barker, who is leading an investigat­ion into the bear’s death. The 26year- old bear developed paralysis in his hindquarte­rs and was euthanized on Sept. 21. The zoo now believes he had encephalit­is, which causes inflammati­on of the brain and is usually the result of a virus. Dr. Barker said Kunik most likely had the mosquito- borne virus for 10 to 14 days and only showed symptoms for about six days before he died. Dr. Barker is a professor of wildlife diseases at the University of Guelph and has been doing pathology work for the zoo since 1975. More online: Global National Report at www. ottawaciti­zen. com .

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