Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium’s video tribute to Boris (published 1 September 2020)

Name:  Boris (male)

Born: 15 December 1985 in Rostock Zoo, Germany

Died:  1 September 2020 in Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium, Washington, USA

Mother:  Kara (deceased)

Father:  Churchill (deceased)

Siblings: Boris has five surviving half-siblings (through his father, Churchill): Victoria (female) born 1996, Victor (male) born 1998, Vitus (male) born 2000, Venus (female) born 2004 and Valeska (female) born 2004.

History of captivity:

  1.  Born in captivity 15 December 1985 in Rostock Zoo, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania (at that time in East Germany)
  2. Transferred to East German State Circus 19 May 1987
  3.  Sold to “Zoo Valkenburg” in Holland (actually the private collection of circus performer Eric Klant) circa 1997 / 1998
  4.  Transferred to the Suarez Brothers Circus, Mexico in 1998 when they employed Klant
  5.  Seized by US Fish & Wildlife Service in Puerto Rica November 2002
  6.  Transferred to Point Defiance, Tacoma, USA 19 November 2002
  7.  Died in Tacoma 1 September 2020

(Source for some of above: Else Poulsen, “Bärle’s Story”, 2014)


None (Boris was castrated prior to or upon entry to the State Circus)

Additional Information

Boris is one of the so-called “Suarez Six” rescue polar bears (actually seven with one bear, Alaska, being rescued eight months earlier than the other six).  You can read more about the rescue here and here (articles open in new window).  The other five bears, all now deceased, were Bärle, Kenny, Masha, Royal and Willy.

Boris is almost certainly the oldest polar bear in captivity and you can read more about him in this article published to highlight his thirty-fourth birthday (opens in new window).

In 2018 Boris became the first polar bear to receive stem cell treatment.  The video below gives more information on this.

Boris was euthanized at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium, Washington, USA on 1 September 2020.  In a statement the zoo’s head vet, Dr. Karen Wolf said “We cared for Boris as long as possible with a combination of groundbreaking medical treatment and daily TLC.  But he had increasing difficulty getting up, had recently fallen, and his quality of life had declined dramatically. We did not want him to suffer. His loss will be felt deeply around the zoo.”  You can read more here.

Return to Captive Polar Bear Directory

Page updated 22 February 2021