Gus the Polar Bear Dies; Beloved Central Park Animal Was 27

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Sad news today out of New York City:

Gus the Polar Bear, the most iconic and well-known animal at the Central Park Zoo, died today after veterinarians discovered an inoperable tumor in his thyroid region. He was 27.

"Gus had been exhibiting abnormal feeding behavior with low appetite and difficulty chewing and swallowing his food," the Wildlife Conservation Society said in a statement.

Gus had been living alone for the past two years after his mate, Ida, passed away in 2011 of liver disease.

Officials estimate that he greeted around 20 million visitors to the Manhattan landmark throughout his run there, which began in 1988.

"He was an important ambassador for his species bringing attention to the problems these bears face in the wild due to a changing environment," Jim Breheny, the society's executive vice president of zoos and aquariums, said in a statement. "Polar bears are apex predators - the kings of their domain, but vulnerable in a world affected by climate change brought on by human activity."

We send our best wishes to those who knew Gus best and we remind readers of the adorable polar bear born at the Buffalo Zoo in February.

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