'We had to make the difficult decision': Seattle zoo's oldest grizzly bear euthanized due to health issues
SEATTLE, WASHINGTON: Keema, the oldest Wood Land Park Zoo bear in Seattle would have turned 29, the following month on January 15, 2023, but it would have been very difficult for him to make it through New Year due to "severe health issues including a lack of appetite and reduced mobility". For that reason, Keema had to be "humanely euthanized" on Sunday, December 25.
According to the authorities, male grizzly bears have a median life expectancy of 21 years in human care, and often less in the wild. Zoo authorities are mourning his loss despite Keema living for almost 29 years, they announced in a blog post on the zoo's website. They have also shared photographs of his life in the zoo alongside his twin brother, Denali, born on January 15, 1994, at Washington State University Bear Center.
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Both of them arrived at Woodland Park Zoo when they were 10 months old. Keema's brother, Denali passed away in December 2020 just shy of his 27th birthday due to geriatric age-related issues. While grizzly bears, who as per authorities are usually solitary animals, "the brothers had lived together their entire lives and were only able to get along because they had always been together and there were no female bears present," the Zoo authorities said.
“While Keema had been hanging in there, he had been declining in mobility which is not uncommon for aging animals. He was in obvious discomfort today and had deteriorated significantly in health,” said Dr Tim Storms, director of animal health at Woodland Park Zoo. “We had to make the difficult decision today to humanely euthanize him.” The geriatric bear has been on prescribed analgesics and joint medication to address his arthritis and keep him comfortable for as long as possible. Besides, the veterinary team did not find any treatable underlying diseases.
“Losing Keema marks the end of an era. For nearly three decades, Keema and his late twin brother, Denali, touched our hearts and minds,” said Kevin Murphy, senior director of animal care at Woodland Park Zoo. “Keema lived a long, enriching life thanks to the dedication and expertise of his animal keepers and our animal health team, as well as the generous support by our donors, members, and community. Further, these majestic bears were iconic ambassadors for grizzlies in the state of Washington as they helped to put the spotlight on the importance of coexisting with bears and other wildlife both in urban and remote areas. Keema and Denali will forever live in our hearts.”
The Zoo announced that it was the end of the era but with that, a new one started as two brown bear cubs, called Fern and Juniper, were welcomed into the zoo. Fern, a grizzly bear, who was born last winter in Montana, arrived at the zoo in October. Juniper, a brown bear cub, was also born last winter and was found roaming near an air force base in Anchorage, Alaska. She met the public for the first time in August.