Your Connection To Jazz, Blues and NPR News
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations
Local News

Point Defiance's only polar bear diagnosed with cancer

blizzard 1.jpg
Katie Cotterill
/
Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium
Blizzard takes a dip in his Arctic Tundra habitat at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium in June 2021.

Blizzard, a polar bear who has called Tacoma’s Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium home since 1997, has been diagnosed with liver cancer.

Zoo staff says the cancer was detected early. Blizzard had elevated liver enzymes on recent bloodwork, and an abdominal ultrasound and biopsies confirmed the malignant tumor. He will receive chemotherapy, pain medication and other supportive care.

blizzard exam.jpg
Katie Cotterill
/
Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium
Veterinary staff perform an exam on Blizzard the polar bear on Sept. 16, 2021. The 25-year-old bear has been diagnosed with liver cancer.

“With treatment, we hope to slow the disease progression, help Blizzard feel better and prolong his life,” said Dr. Karen Wolf, the zoo’s head veterinarian.

And Blizzard is prepared for that treatment. The bear, who is considered elderly at 25, has been trained to put his paw through a specially built sleeve so his care team can take blood samples that will help veterinary staff continue to assess his health.

“Blizzard has been a very special part of our family since he arrived as a 15-month-old orphaned cub in 1997. He is well-loved by our guests, community and especially our staff,” the zoo shared on Facebook.

“We … will continue to do everything we can to treat him for this disease and keep him comfortable,” Wolf said.

Blizzard will remain in his Arctic Tundra habitat and have access to both the viewable and behind-the-scenes areas, the zoo said in a news release.

He is the only polar bear at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium. Boris, a former circus animal who arrived at the zoo in 2002, died Sept. 1, 2020, at the age of 34.

blizzard 2.jpg
Katie Cotterill
/
Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium
Blizzard the polar bear has called Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium home since 1997.

Related Content