Facing a host of challenging medical ailments and a less-than-hopeful prognosis, an approximately 10-month-old male black bear from South Lake Tahoe was humanely euthanized on Monday at the Oakland Zoo where he was receiving treatment. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s (CDFW) veterinary team remained in close contact with the Oakland Zoo’s veterinary team, and after considering treatments and likely outcomes agreed that the cub was unlikely to have a good quality of life even if treatments were successful.
“This poor cub had a whole host of medical issues,” said CDFW Wildlife Veterinarian Dr. Brandon Munk. “He was never going to be a normal bear again and would have required lifelong medical care in captivity. We didn’t want a poor quality of life for the bear and undue strain on any zoo or sanctuary caring for him.”
The severely underweight bear was brought to CDFW earlier this month after he was found in a public area of South Lake Tahoe. The bear was suffering from significant pneumonia, a broken foot with an infection that was likely spreading to surrounding bones, a dislocated wrist, severe hair loss and skin ulceration caused by fungal and bacterial infections, gastrointestinal parasites, an ear infection and an umbilical hernia.
CDFW received the bear on Nov. 10, did an assessment and on Nov. 11 transferred the bear to Oakland Zoo’s world-class veterinary medical facility. The zoo’s veterinarians were successful in relieving the bear’s pain and discomfort and stabilizing his condition. However, the bear’s condition worsened despite treatment. If veterinarians would have continued treatment, the bear would have required round-the-clock sedation, as well as potentially placing him on a ventilator.
“The fact that he had worsened, despite treatment, and would have required the highest level of invasive care, were the biggest deciding factors for euthanasia,” said Oakland Zoo Senior Veterinarian Dr. Ryan Sadler. “The potential for this bear to have a good life under human care, even with significant veterinary intervention, was very low. We didn’t want to see him undergo months of stress and painful treatment only to be left with conditions that would cause discomfort throughout his life.”
Ken Paglia, CDFW Communications: Ken.Paglia@wildlife.ca.gov