SUDBURY -- A 10-year-old female polar bear, Taiga, at the Canadian Polar Bear Habitat in Cochrane has passed away suddenly Tuesday morning leaving many unanswered questions.

"My understanding is the staff went in to do their rounds, and as they went to Taiga’s compound, she showed signs of struggling a little bit, and unfortunately she did pass away in the presence of one of our staff," said Cochrane Mayor Denis Clement.

"We are heartbroken," said JP Bradette, the chair of the habitat’s board of directors, in an announcement on Jan. 22.

Bradette says Taiga played an important role in the research and conservation work going on at the centre.

The polar bear recently made news as the first-ever potentially pregnant bear under human care to make a den in the natural conditions, available at the Polar Bear Habitat. Taiga was suspected to be pregnant, but it had yet to be confirmed.

Officials with the centre say she was recently spending less time in the den, after not producing a cub. Now her den will be studied, hopefully leading to a greater understanding of polar bear reproduction.

She had been living at the habitat for almost a year while her permanent home, the Aquarium du Quebec, was being renovated.

Elizabeth Tessier, the aquarium’s director says Taiga "provided magical moments, both for our visitors and for the team that has looked after her for all these years."

Despite the bear being at the Cochrane habitat for such a lengthy period, Tessier says, "we are still very attached to Taiga."

Tessier says her organization is "extremely satisfied with the care provided to her by the staff at the habitat. We are as saddened as they are by this news."

Cochrane’s mayor says the town’s people are "proud to have been able to provide Taiga with an expansive, natural home."

Clement extends condolences "to everyone who knew Taiga."

Her care staff says she was curious, energetic, social and known to spend time watching people. She appeared to enjoy her time at the 21 acre facility, and was said to be extremely responsive to interaction with her caregivers.

Clement says although Taiga will be missed, the death will not change habitat operations at this time.

The Canadian Polar Bear Habitat is currently home to four other polar bears: Ganuk, Inukshuk, Henry and Eddy.

Arrangements are underway to determine the cause of her death.

An autopsy will be performed at the veterinary facility in St-Hyacinthe in order to learn more about what happened to Taiga.