AboutZoos, Since 2008


Dur­rell staff bid a heavy-​hearted farewell to ‘Wolf­gang’ the bear

pub­lished 09 March 2013 | mod­i­fied 07 March 2014

Andean bear WolfieDur­rell Wildlife Con­ser­va­tion Trust is sad to announce that due to an age-​related decline in the health and well-​being of Wolf­gang the Andean bear, the difficult deci­sion to euth­a­nize him was reached Thurs­day, on March 7th.

Wolf­gang and his part­ner Bar­bara have been delight­ing vis­i­tors to Dur­rell since 1987, dur­ing which time they’ve pro­duced 7 pre­cious cubs — a sig­nif­i­cant addi­tion to the ‘safety net’ cap­tive pop­u­la­tion of their species, which is offi­cially listed as ‘vul­ner­a­ble’ to becom­ing extinct in the wild, accord­ing The IUCN Red List of Threat­ened Species.

Wolf­gang was much loved by staff and vol­un­teers, past and present, and more widely by islanders and sup­port­ers fur­ther afield. He was a huge favourite here at Dur­rell Wildlife Park, and will be sadly missed.
Mark Brayshaw, Head of Ani­mal Col­lec­tion at Dur­rell »

Wolfie’, as he was affec­tion­ately known, was born at Leipzig Zoo 30.12.1985 and arrived at Dur­rell as a 2 year-​old, fol­low­ing Barbara’s arrival by a few months — the two have been together ever since. Andean or spec­ta­cled bears (Tremarc­tos orna­tus) are soli­tary in the wild, but hav­ing spent the major­ity of their lives with each other, it’s likely that Bar­bara will miss his pres­ence. Her long-​term response is dif­fi­cult to pre­dict, but staff will mon­i­tor her closely to ensure her needs are met.
Both bears have exceeded aver­age life expectancy, which is gen­er­ally around 25 years in cap­tiv­ity, and Wolf­gang enjoyed very good health and qual­ity of life through­out his time at Dur­rell. He’d had arthri­tis for some time, which was being med­ically man­aged. A marked dete­ri­o­ra­tion in the last few weeks caused keep­ers and vet staff to make a re-​assessment of his con­di­tion and future well­be­ing.

After care­ful delib­er­a­tion, it was decided Thurs­day morn­ing that the kind­est option was euthana­sia. This will no doubt be sad news for the many staff and vis­i­tors who grew to love Durrell’s iconic ‘bear pair’, but we hope that peo­ple will realise this was a deci­sion born of care.

Wolf­gang will not be replaced in the imme­di­ate term, as the first pri­or­ity will be the well­be­ing of Bar­bara, and which course of action best ben­e­fits her con­tin­ued qual­ity of life.

The Dur­rell Wildlife Con­ser­va­tion Trust,with its inter­na­tional head­quar­ters in Jer­sey, was founded by author and nat­u­ral­ist Ger­ald Dur­rell fifty years ago with a mis­sion to save species world­wide, and it has a proven track record of doing just that. Species that have been pulled back from the brink include the Mau­ri­tius kestrel, pink pigeon, echo para­keet and Mal­lor­can mid­wife toad, and our ded­i­cated con­ser­va­tion­ists are hard at work in threat­ened habi­tats around the world con­tin­u­ing the bat­tle to pro­tect and con­serve many more.

The above news item is reprinted from mate­ri­als avail­able at Dur­rell Wildlife Con­ser­va­tion Trust. Orig­i­nal text may be edited for con­tent and length.
(Source: Dur­rell Wildlife Con­ser­va­tion Trust news, 08.03.2013)

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