The only polar bear resident at SeaWorld San Diego died unexpectedly on Tuesday, and while the marine park says the death of 21-year-old Szenja will be investigated, PETA says it knows what killed her: a "broken heart." The animal rights activists objected strongly in February when SeaWorld separated Szenja from longtime companion Snowflake, who was sent to a breeding program in Pittsburgh. "After losing her companion of 20 years when SeaWorld shipped Snowflake to the Pittsburgh Zoo in order to breed more miserable polar bears, Szenja did what anyone would do when they lose all hope, she gave up," PETA spokeswoman Tracy Reiman tells the San Diego Union-Tribune.
Polar bears in the wild don't often live beyond their teens, but those in captivity have been known to survive into their 40s. SeaWorld says Szenja had been listless and lost her appetite over the last week, NBC San Diego reports. A necropsy will be conducted to find the cause of death. "Szenja was a beloved member of our animal family ... [who] touched the hearts of those who have cared for her ... and millions of guests" over the years, a SeaWorld spokesman Al Garver said in a statement. "We're proud to have been a part of her life and to know that she inspired people from around the world to want to protect polar bears in the wild." (The San Diego park ended its Shamu orca shows earlier this year.)