SeaWorld has been in a constant uphill battle to restore its reputation after the 2013 release of the documentary “Blackfish.” On Tuesday, the park suffered another PR blow when a 21-year-old polar bear suddenly died. The Independent reported that the bear, named Szenja, had a “loss of appetite and energy for about a week.”
The bear was born in Germany and shipped to SeaWorld in 1997 when the park opened its “Wild Arctic” exhibit. When Szenja arrived at SeaWorld, she was brought in with another female, Snowflake; however, Snowflake was moved to Pittsburgh at the end of January. More than 55,000 people signed a petition to keep the bears together.
A spokesperson for PETA told NBC,
“After losing her companion of 20 years when SeaWorld shipped Snowflake to the Pittsburgh Zoo in order to breed more miserable polar bears, Szenja did what anyone would do when they lose all hope, she gave up. This should be a wake-up call to SeaWorld: Stop breeding and shipping animals around, close the animal exhibits, and retire the animals to sanctuaries.”
Though 21 years is old for a bear in the wild, it’s quite young for an animal in captivity. The park doesn’t expect to uncover Szenja’s cause of death for several weeks.