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Taipei Zoo's oldest Asian black bear is euthanized at 34

02/28/2024 11:36 AM
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Photo courtesy of Taipei Zoo
Photo courtesy of Taipei Zoo

Taipei, Feb. 28 (CNA) Hsiao-hsiung (小熊), an Asian black bear who was brought to Taipei Zoo as a cub after being found for sale in a cage on Alishan, has been euthanized at 34 due to deteriorating health, the zoo announced Wednesday.

In a Facebook post, the zoo said a New Taipei resident, Mr. Chen (陳), saw the then 2-3-month-old bear for sale along a roadside on Alishan on Oct. 31, 1989.

Unwilling to leave it there, Chen purchased the bear and brought it to Taipei Zoo, hoping that they would be able to take care of it, the post said.

Despite its name, meaning "Little Bear," Hsiao-hsiung grew into a strong adult bear and eventually grew old, the zoo said, noting that in recent years, it had suffered from age-related ailments including arthritis, bone spurs, high blood pressure and hair loss.

Although Asian black bears have an average lifespan of around 25 years in the wild, Hsiao-hsiung lived to be 34, and had spent the last few years in a "bear retirement village" in the zoo's Formosan Animal Area, it said.

Over the weekend, zookeepers noticed that Hsiao-hsiung was having trouble getting around, and eventually lost use of his hind legs.

An examination and CT scan by zoo vets found he was suffering from spinal bone spurs and intervertebral disc disease, and the bone spurs were suspected of pressing on his spinal cord and nerve roots and causing his immobility, the zoo said.

The veterinary team tried for two days to improve Hsiao-hsiung's condition with laser therapy and other treatments, but was unsuccessful.

Given his advanced age, and the low odds that surgery could lead to a full recovery, they made the decision to compassionately euthanize him on Tuesday, the zoo said.

In the post, the zoo said its staff would remember Hsiao-hsiung's imposing figure and the way his ears would scan back and forth "like radar" upon hearing one of his keepers' voices.

"Thank you for letting us take care of you and keep you company until the end," the post said.

(By Chen Yu-ting and Matthew Mazzetta)


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