By Josie  December 10th, 2023

Uncover the Story of Depressed Polar Bear Prescribed Prozac 

Mental health issues are just as serious and urgent as physical wounds – the same goes for animals.

This is the tale of Gus, a depressed polar bear, who became the first zoo animal to be prescribed Prozac for his mental health struggles.

Gus was born in 1985 at the Toledo Zoo and later moved to the Central Park Zoo in 1988.

Introducing Gus

He gained fame in the 1990s for his peculiar behavior of swimming obsessively in an 8-figure for up to 12 hours a day.

This behavior, seen as a sign of mental distress, led him to be dubbed “neurotic” and “depressed,” reflecting the stress of living in a confined space.

Gus’ long-time companion, Ida, passed away in 2011. Ida’s passing left Gus visibly distressed, exacerbating his symptoms of depression.

Gus' Heartbreak

He became listless and showed a marked decrease in his usual activities, including swimming.

To address his issues, the zoo hired an animal behavioral therapist and started an enrichment program that included new toys and challenges.

Helping Gus

Most notably, Gus the polar bear was the first zoo animal to be prescribed Prozac.

In 2013, his carers noted his severe loss of appetite and inability to eat. The ensuing surgery led to the discovery of an inoperable tumor.

Gus was euthanized at the age of 27, a lifespan that exceeded the average for captive polar bears.

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