Sea World’s beloved polar bear Liya has unexpectedly died over the weekend at her enclosure on the Gold Coast.
The 19-year-old female, who is the mother of two cubs Henry and Mishka, was found at the theme park on Saturday night.
“We’re deeply saddened by the death of much-loved 19-year-old Polar Bear, Liya, who passed away unexpectedly at Polar Bear Shores on Saturday night,” Sea World posted on their Facebook page.
“Liya lived a long and enriched life at Sea World and her legacy to the ongoing conservation and education efforts of Polar Bears will continue through her cubs, Mishka, who lives on the Gold Coast, and Henry, who lives in Canada.
“In her 18 years at Sea World, she has helped generations of park guests gain a better appreciation for Polar Bears and the marine environment.”
Liya was born in Russia before being transferred to the Gold Coast as part of an international breeding program. In the wild, polar bears live on average 15 to 18 years.
In a statement sent to news.com.au, Sea World head of marine sciences, Wayne Phillips, said Liya was like family.
“The animals at Sea World are like family and Liya will be greatly missed by all who knew and loved her,” he said.
“Liya was born in Leningrad Zoo, Russia, and moved to Sea World in 2001 as part of an international breeding program.”
Sea World has a long history of working with marine animals, with more than 40 years of experience in animal care, research and rescue.
It is unclear what caused Liya’s death.