The oldest polar bear living in Britain who was named Victor has died suddenly at the age of 22.
Victor, who experienced terminal kidney failure at Yorkshire Wildlife Park near Doncaster, was “unexpectedly taken ill” on Friday.
Park managers said the bear, who fathered 13 cubs, was put to sleep after vets attempted to save him but failed.
Victor, who was born at Rostock Zoo in Germany before being relocated to Rhenen in the Netherlands, has grandchildren who live all around the world.
“Victor spent his days enjoying the lakes and expansive habitat in Project Polar, one of the largest reserves in the world. He was joined by four other polar bears over the following five years,” the park said in a statement.
“The Directors of Yorkshire Wildlife Park would like to thank the veterinary team from Portland House Veterinary Group who responded so quickly and who have worked and supported staff in caring for Victor since he arrived in Yorkshire.
“The park would also like to thank the dedicated staff team who have loved and cared for Victor since his arrival and who today are saddened at the loss of one who was a favourite at the park for staff and visitors alike.”
The park said Victor was a “great ambassador for his species” and helped to inspire generations and raise awareness of the “plight of his species in the wild” and the threat of climate change – adding he will be “greatly missed” by everyone.
Victor, who lived in an area of the park called Project Polar, lived alongside the only polar bears in England.
Polar bears, which are classed as a vulnerable species due to climate change, are the sister species of the brown bear and spend the majority of their lives on the sea ice.