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Cheyenne Mountain Zoo Farewell Elderly Black Bear

Posted By : The Animal Facts Editorial Team

Date: April 10, 2022 12:19 pm

Cheyenne Mountain Zoo Black Bear Passes Away

Honey the Asiatic black bear is pictured prior to her passing at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo

Photo Credit: Cheyenne Mountain Zoo

Cheyenne Mountain Zoo are farewelling their elderly Asiatic black bear, Honey after a short battle with illness. Keepers described the 29 year old bear as laid-back and a slow-eater who was fond of her sister.

On Friday Honey began to show signs of illness and pain and was taken to the zoo's veterinary hospital for treatment. Serious age related complications were discovered during the exam and it was decided euthanasia would be the most humane option.

Honey had called Cheyenne Mountain Zoo home since she was one and a half years old and at 29 was the oldest known Asiatic black bear in human care. She lived with her sister Beezler. The species is rare in North American zoos being found at just four other accredited locations.

Courtney Rogers, lead animal keeper for the sisters said, “Even though they were sisters and lived together all their lives, Honey and Beezler had very different personalities. We often described Honey as a ‘sweet old lady,’ but she could also be super assertive at times.”

“Caring for Honey and Beezler was what made me realize I really love bears,” said Erika Furnes, another animal keeper for the bears. “They inspired me to champion an Asiatic black bear research and recovery program in Vietnam, which will receive funding thanks to our Zoo members this year. The sisters did their jobs perfectly, which is to make people fall in love with them, and in turn, inspire conservation action for their relatives in the wild.”

Honey was an active participant in her own health care allowing keepers to better manage some of her age related ailments in her older years.

“After keepers noticed that Honey had some cloudiness in one eye, veterinary opthamologists recommended eye drops for her twice a day,” said Rogers. “Honey quickly learned to put her face through a modified blood draw port in her den. She was very good about holding still to let us put in the eye drops, and in return, she got a special treat of eating applesauce straight from the pouch.”

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She was also tolerant of cooperative care procedures and had been trained to allow keepers to complete a voluntary blood draw.

“Honey was shorter than Beezler, so we had to make a makeshift ‘booster seat’ for her, in order for her to get in position to put her paw through the port,” said Rogers. “She not only learned to use the booster, which was a tire filled with hay, and present her paw, but she also waited patiently when the vein proved more difficult for the vet team to find than usual.”

Honey had a close relationship with her sister, save for an occasional squabble over food. They typically spent time together and despite having their own dens would spend nights snuggled together in the same bed.

“Honey was very tolerant of Beezler,” said Rogers. “We set up a physical therapy room for them to help keep them mobile and active, despite the advancing arthritis they both had. There were toys and treats everywhere – even up high, where they would really have to work to reach them. One time, we saw Beezler use Honey’s back as a ladder to reach some snacks. Honey allowed her to do it, and was rewarded when Beezler knocked the treats down to Honey.”

Keepers are giving Beezler lots of extra attention as she mourns the loss of her sister. On her final day the pair spent time together and Beezler cleaned off her paws. The morning after keepers noted that she came to them as normal. She is being treated to extra enrichment such as fresh water in her pool and a mud wallow.

Learn more about Asian Black Bears here – Asian Black Bear Fact File | The Animal Facts

Learn more about the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo on their website – Cheyenne Mountain Zoo

Cheyenne Mountain Zoo Black Bear Passes Away

Honey the Asiatic black bear is pictured prior to her passing at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo

Photo Credit: Cheyenne Mountain Zoo

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