Hogle Zoo polar bear to undergo surgery for major broken bone

Nora, one of Hogle Zoo's two polar bears, underwent surgery after breaking one of her front legs. Photo: Hogle Zoo

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, Feb. 1, 2019 (Gephardt Daily) — One of the Hogle Zoo’s two female polar bears — Nora — is scheduled for orthopedic surgery on Monday after breaking her humerus this week.

Vets and specialists are headed in from multiple locations to treat the weight-bearing bone — which runs between the shoulder and the elbow — with heavy-duty orthopedic hardware such as plates, screws, pins and nails.

Zoo officials think the 500-pound, 3-year-old polar bear just played too hard for her own good.

“She’s a very rambunctious bear,” lead keeper Kaleigh Jablonski said in a prepared statement. “It’s not unusual to watch her head-dive into the snow without any hesitation. She just plays rough.”

The injury is believed to have occurred on Wednesday night.

“Keepers found her Thursday morning on exhibit but unwilling to move,” the Hogle Zoo statement says. “They monitored her closely for the next two days but Nora didn’t budge — not even to interact with her keepers, which is unusual.”

By Saturday morning, Nora made her way into the back-holding area allowing the Zoo’s Animal Care team better access, the statement says.

Nora, one of Hogle Zoo’s two polar bears, will undergo surgery after breaking one of her front legs. Photo: Hogle Zoo

A full physical examination was performed Sunday, including X-rays, which confirmed Nora had broken her humerus bone, rendering her unable to walk.

Hogle Zoo vets consulted veterinary surgeons, human orthopedic specialists, and radiologists, and learned that at least three bears Nora’s age have broken bones by roughhousing, the statement says.

A large animal orthopedic team from Texas A&M, a human orthopedic surgeon from the University of Utah Medical Center and a veterinary anesthesiologist from North Carolina State University will be performing Nora’s surgery on Monday.

The 500-pound bear had metabolic bone disease as a cub. The Nora Team has analyzed the X-rays and believe Nora is a good candidate for surgical repair. Her bones will be assessed during the procedure.

“During the post-op period she will likely require additional anesthetic procedures for follow-up X-rays to see how the break is healing,” the zoo statement says. “Should the fixation break, she may require additional procedures. Either way, Nora will be off exhibit for the next several months.”

The other bear, Hope, will remain on display.

DePuy Synthes and Ethicon, Johnson & Johnson Medical Devices companies, are providing veterinary equipment for the surgery.

Nora, one of Hogle Zoo’s two polar bears, will undergo surgery after breaking one of her front legs. Photo: Hogle Zoo


  1. Please take care of sweet Nora. We miss her so much in Columbus I want nothing but her to be healthy and happy. She is loved all over the world and is such a little fighter. Just never seen an animal that has captured everyone’s heart the way she has. Thank all of you 4 basically saving her life. Thank you


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