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Mercedes, the much loved polar bear who appeared in various features on STV’s lifestyle show The Hour, has died after being put to sleep at the Highland Wildlife Park.
The sad decision was made after Mercedes’ health deteriorated rapidly. She had been suffering from age-related health problems including osteoarthritis and had recently begun to show signs of “old age senility”.
The 30-year-old polar bear was famous not only in Scotland but also much further afield round the globe, and had become a TV favourite with animal lovers.
Speaking about the decision to put Mercedes to sleep, Simon Girling, the head of veterinary services at the zoo, said: “We have been monitoring Mercedes' condition for some time now and have tried a number of different therapies for her advanced arthritis, which we were having some success with.
"However, even on medication, Mercedes has now taken a significant turn for the worse in terms of her mobility and is also showing signs of mental confusion.” He added: “This deterioration in her welfare has prompted us to step in and humanely euthanase her.”
On Monday this week (April 11) The Hour aired a feature on Mercedes, with her poor health one of the main focuses of the item. At the time, animal collections manager Douglas Richardson spoke to the show about the polar bear's unfortunate condition and how they were making everything as easy as possible for her.
He said: “Mercedes starting to show some clear signs of problems with her arthritis. She’s on medication every day but she still has a very healthy appetite. She is an old girl and we have to treat her and feed her differently now. The future for Mercedes is probably quite bleak. She is a very old bear and it’s something we have to monitor very carefully.”
Born in Canada, the polar bear was caught and moved to Edinburgh Zoo in 1984, where she reared 2 cubs, Minty and Ohoto.
Mercedes then moved to sister zoo the Highland Wildlife Park in Kingussie in 2009, to a much larger enclosure, where she was teamed up with another polar bear called Walker. The clear difference their mobility soon became apparent to vets, who began to monitor Mercedes' health more closely.
Watch the video above of Mercedes as she played at the Highland Wildlife Park, featured on The Hour on April 11 2011.
MEMORIES OF MERCEDES: