A 23-year-old black bear that had been in declining health for months was euthanized Jan. 16 at Northwest Trek Wildlife Park.
Officials at the wildlife park near Eatonville said the male bear’s condition suddenly deteriorated, resulting in the decision to euthanize it roughly six months after the same fate befell a female bear at the park.
Zoological curator Heidi Hellmuth praised the veterinary and animal care team for their “phenomenal job caring for” the bear.
Black bears have an average lifespan of 15 to 25 years.
The one recently put down arrived at Northwest Trek in 1993 when an exhibit was built to showcase bears in natural surroundings. Its female companion was euthanized last June after a struggle against cancer for several years.
The deaths leave Northwest Trek with two brown bears but no black bears. The park plans to acquire more black bears, said Donna Powell, acting deputy director.
“Black bears are an integral part of Northwest Trek,” Powell said. “We want to continue that fine legacy of conservation with the species in the future.”
Three 9-month-old wolf pups are now living in the former black bear exhibit.
In addition to exhibits, other animals at the 725-acre zoological park live in a free-roam environment for public viewing via tram tours. The facility is operated by Metro Parks Tacoma.