1,000-Pound Polar Bear Undergoes Exam at North Carolina Zoo

By Colin Fredericson

A 1,000-pound polar bear named Nik underwent an annual examination at the North Carolina Zoo.

Chief Veterinarian Dr. J.B. Minter spoke about the unique procedure, which requires vigilance in case Nik wakes up. That’s why zoo staff stood to watch over the scene with a shotgun ready.

“Because a lot of our animals we do consider dangerous. He is actually one of those particular animals. You would not want to go with him when he’s awake because he would hurt you. So we want to make sure that everybody’s safe,” said Minter.

Minter and his team began by hitting Nik with a tranquilizer dart.

“They have a lot of blubber or fat overlaying the area where we are going to dart so I have to get all the way through that fat layer and into the muscle layer,” Minter said.

The team checked the 11-year-old bear’s blood pressure, took blood, gave him a dental cleaning, checked on his arthritis, and took x-rays, in a procedure lasting only 30 minutes.

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