ASHEBORO, N.C. -- A 21-year-old male polar bear at the North Carolina Zoo has died.
Zoo officials said Aquila was found in his off-exhibit holding quarters Tuesday morning.
Ken Reininger, general curator at N.C. Zoo, said in a statement Aquila appeared to be in good condition when workers left Monday evening. He added that the bear had no previous signs of illness.
A necropsy - an autopsy for animals - showed Aquila died from a ruptured stomach.
Aquila returned to the N.C. Zoo in April after a two-year-stay at the Detroit Zoo while the polar bear exhibit was being renovated.
This is the third animal to die at the zoo this year. A newborn gorilla died in July; zookeepers believe the baby's mother rolled over on it while sleeping. At the beginning of September, zoo officials had to euthanize a 21-year-old gorilla who was ill.