New York, N.Y. – Aug. 28, 2013 - Gus, the much-celebrated polar bear at the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Central Park Zoo, has died. He was 27 years old.

Gus was euthanized yesterday while under anesthesia for a medical procedure conducted by WCS veterinarians. Gus had been exhibiting abnormal feeding behavior with low appetite and difficulty chewing and swallowing his food. During the procedure, veterinarians determined Gus had a large, inoperable tumor in his thyroid region. A necropsy will be conducted to determine the full pathology of the condition.

The median life expectancy for a male polar bear in zoos is 20.7 years, according to the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.

“Gus was an icon at the Central Park Zoo and a great source of joy for our visitors and staff,” said Jim Breheny, WCS Executive Vice President of Zoos and Aquarium. “He was an important ambassador for his species bringing attention to the problems these bears face in the wild due to a changing environment. Polar bears are apex predators – the kings of their domain, but vulnerable in a world affected by climate change brought on by human activity.”

Gus was a media favorite and appeared in many local and national newspapers and television newscasts as the face of the Central Park Zoo. In 1994, he gained media attention out of concern for his repetitive swimming pattern. An enrichment program was designed for Gus that included providing moveable items for him to manipulate, implementing positive reinforcement training sessions, and having Gus forage for food to keep his mind and body active and healthy.

It is estimated that more than 20 million people visited Gus at the Central Park Zoo throughout his lifetime. Millions of New Yorkers grew up with the polar bear. Gus had been at Central Park Zoo since 1988. He was born at the Toledo Zoo in 1985 and came to the Central Park Zoo in 1988.

Media Contacts:
Max Pulsinelli – 571-218-7601;
Steve Fairchild – 718-220-5189;

The Wildlife Conservation Society’s Central Park Zoo - Open every day of the year. General Admission is $12 for adults, $9 for senior citizens, $7 for children 3 to 12, and free for children younger than 3. Total Experience Admission is $18.00 for adults, $15.00 for senior citizens, and $13.00 for children 3 to 12. 4-D theater admission is $4.00 for members and $7.00 for non-members. Zoo hours are 10am to 5:30 pm, April through October, and 10am – 4:30pm daily, November through April. Tickets are sold until one half-hour before closing. The zoo is located at Fifth Avenue and 64th Street. For further information, please call 212-439-6500 or visit

The Wildlife Conservation Society saves wildlife and wild places worldwide. We do so through science, global conservation, education and the management of the world’s largest system of urban wildlife parks, led by the flagship Bronx Zoo. Together these activities change attitudes towards nature and help people imagine wildlife and humans living in harmony. WCS is committed to this mission because it is essential to the integrity of life on Earth.