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Zoo saddened to announce the death of Winnie the grizzly bear
Winnie, a 10-year-old grizzly bear at the Great Bend Brit Spaugh Zoo, passed away unexpectedly Sunday night.

Winnie the grizzly bear has died, Great Bend Brit Spaugh Zoo officials announced Monday.

A news release was issued by Community Coordinator Christina Hayes:

“Our four grizzly bears have been bedded down and spending the winter in their stalls since mid-November. During this time, they slow down and spend much of their time sleeping and are not very active. We check them daily and offer food and they constantly have access to water. On Saturday, keepers noticed Winnie, one of our 10-year-old male bears, was not as interested in his food as he normally is. Because it’s winter, that is not something that is abnormal from time to time. On Sunday he appeared to still not be interested in food and was more lethargic, so staff tried to give him some electrolytes and some other types of food and he did consume a small amount.

“Unfortunately, during our morning rounds today, he was discovered to have passed away sometime overnight. Our veterinarians performed a necropsy, and preliminary results indicate that he suffered from gastric torsion. This is a life-threatening and often fatal condition in which the stomach becomes overstretched and rotated and can cut off the blood supply to the gastrointestinal tract. An exploratory surgery would have been the only way to discover this condition and is not something easily accomplished in an animal as large as a grizzly bear. We did come across a few other abnormal findings and samples and tissues were sent to K-State for further evaluation.

“Our staff is absolutely devastated by this unexpected loss and would appreciate your respect during their grieving process. We consider these animals to be a part of our family and losing one of our family members takes a significant toll on our staff. “Winnie’s siblings, Piglet and Pooh, appear to be handling it as expected and will have each other and their keepers during their grieving process.

“If you have any questions or concerns, contact the Park Department at 620-793-4111.”