Female Polar Bear Dies in Fight at Hokkaido Zoo

Courtesy of the Kushiro Zoo
Milk, a female polar bear, is seen in July 2022.

KUSHIRO, Hokkaido — Milk, a 10-year-old female polar bear, died in a fight with a male polar bear, the Kushiro Zoo announced Thursday.

Milk was born in December 2012 at the Oga Aquarium GAO in Oga, Akita Prefecture, and came to the Kushiro Zoo in January 2014. She was popular at the zoo as a result of various videos, including ones showing her walking on two legs.

According to the zoo, Milk had temporarily lived with the 14-year-old male, Kiroru, more than 200 times around breeding season since 2018.

After they were placed in the same enclosure at the park’s outdoor exhibition area on Wednesday morning, the two were seen getting along and playing together.

However, after about an hour, their keeper saw on a monitor that they had suddenly begun fighting and rushed to the scene. The keeper tried to distract them with food and toys, as well as spray them with water, but Milk suffered a head injury and died.

“We took every precaution before putting the two animals together in the same enclosure,” the Kushiro Zoo director said. “We plan to examine the circumstances of this incident to prevent it from happening again.”

Kiroru is now the only polar bear at the Kushiro Zoo, which intends to temporarily close the polar bear exhibit.