The Minnesota Zoo had sad news to report Tuesday as one of its beloved animals has died.

They shared with "profound sadness" that Kenai, the largest of the Minnesota Zoo's three brown bears has died at the age of 17.

According to zoo officials, Kenai had been part of the Minnesota Zoo family for more than 15 years after being found orphaned in Alaska in September 2006. Earlier that year, two other orphaned cubs, Sadie and Haines, had also been found

All three were brought to the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center, where they remained for their first two years of life before coming to the Minnesota Zoo in 2008.

Minnesota Now logo
Get our free mobile app

Zoo officials noted that although the three cubs were unrelated, they acted in many ways like siblings. Kenai seemed to relish his role as the laid-back “little brother” who was always willing to tag along with Haines and let Sadie be the unquestioned leader of their group.

Tragically, Kenai developed liver cancer, which would ultimately take his life.

This is a hard loss for our staff and the Zoo as a whole. Kenai was an important ambassador for his wild counterparts and his presence will be dearly missed.
Our staff will continue to provide expert and compassionate care to Haines and Sadie, who are currently in their behind-the-scenes habitat for torpor (similar to a light winter hibernation).

According to the Minnesota Zoo website, brown bears generally live 15-20 years but can live up to 30 years in captivity.

Visitors to the Minnesota Zoo can see its brown bears at Russia’s Grizzly Coast, which is a new exhibit that also features sea otters and stunning scenery.

LOOK: Stunning animal photos from around the world

From grazing Tibetan antelope to migrating monarch butterflies, these 50 photos of wildlife around the world capture the staggering grace of the animal kingdom. The forthcoming gallery runs sequentially from air to land to water, and focuses on birds, land mammals, aquatic life, and insects as they work in pairs or groups, or sometimes all on their own.

Gallery Credit: Nicole Caldwell

Minnesota Now logo
Get our free mobile app

LOOK: 30 fascinating facts about sleep in the animal kingdom

Gallery Credit: Katherine Gallagher