Augustus Bear, or Gus, the ursine face of Central Park Zoo, passed away on Tuesday after medical professionals found an inoperable tumor. He was 27 years old, and resided primarily at the Central Park Zoo.
Gus, like many New Yorkers, was born in the midwest—Toledo, exactly—and journeyed to the big city of New York in 1988, promising to write and be careful of confidence men. He battled depression while at the zoo, often expressing himself through strangely repetitive swimming patterns:
The polar bear, whose name is Gus, keeps on swimming in a tight little figure 8, gracefully pushing off his artificial rock pile with a huge hind paw, languorously backstroking, then turning a neat diving flip by the underwater window. [...]
The problem, said Mr. Desmond, who is being paid $25,000 for treating Gus — which is not so bad considering he weighs about 700 pounds, four or five times the size of most neurotics — is that he really doesn't have enough to do. In zoo talk, the result is called "stereotypical behavior," in which an animal fills the void by doing exactly the same thing over and over again without any real reason.
An "enrichment expert" helped him back on track in 1994. The zoo estimates that over 20 million people gazed upon Gus's snowy fur in his time at Central Park.
After some time with a slight appetite and difficultly chewing his food, the bear was discovered to have a tumor. He was euthanized on Tuesday. Gus lived well past the mean age for zoo-living male polar bears, which is 20.7 years.
[image via AP]