Polar bears are already a vulnerable species likely to become endangered if their reproduction doesn't improve, and with tragedies like this that task becomes just a little bit harder.
A baby polar bear cub has died in a zoo in the German capital of Berlin, just weeks after its sibling was stillborn and months after its older sibling also passed away.
Officials at Tierpark Zoo in Berlin were distraught to find the young polar bear, which was only born in December, dead when the zoo re-opened for the New Year today.
Traurige Nachricht aus dem #TierparkBerlin. Das Eisbärjungtier ist gestorben - es wurde 26 Tage alt. Tragic news from the #TierparkBerlin. The polar bear cub died after 26 days. #eisbär #polarbear #eisbärbaby #polarbearcub #rip #ruheinfrieden https://t.co/0kbwtxE5fT pic.twitter.com/4GfLE80pRC
- Zoo Tierpark Berlin (@zooberlin) January 2, 2018
The cub, which was born to an eight-year-old polar bear called Tonja, appeared healthy when the zoo was last open on New Year's Eve on Sunday, and appears to have died of natural causes.
The 26-day old cub, which had not been named, was found lifeless on a CCTV camera by staff when they checked the enclosure on Tuesday morning.
The zoo said in a statement that the cub will now undergo a post-mortem examination so officials can find out why it died.
Credit: Tierpark Zoo
Tragically, this marks two losses in short succession for Tonja after the cub's sibling was stillborn back in December, the Express has reported.
The death of the polar bear cub also came less than a year after the polar bear's mother lost another one of her children.
Back in March of last year, four-month-old Fritz died of unknown causes following complications from a liver inflammation.
According to the zoo, Fritz fell ill one weekend and underwent tests which indicated a liver problem. However, vets could not figure out exactly why the cub was ill and Fritz sadly died later that day.
Zoo director Andreas Knieriem, said of Fritz's death: "We are devastated. It's incredible how fond we had become of that little polar bear."
Polar bears are already categorised as a vulnerable species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, meaning they are likely to become endangered unless their reproduction improves.
The mortality rate for young polar bears is about 50 percent. This high mortality rate can be even higher during the first 10 days, according to Knieriem.