The Los Angeles Zoo’s animal care and veterinary teams made the difficult decision to euthanize 25-year-old male American black bear, Ranger, Feb. 9 due to his declining health and decreased quality of life. Rescued as a cub from the wild in Minnesota, Ranger came to the L.A. Zoo in 1997 from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.
“This is truly a deep loss for our zoo community,” L.A. Zoo CEO and director Denise M. Verret said. “Since his arrival at our zoo, Ranger’s presence helped connect millions of Angelenos to the type of wildlife that exists around us, which is crucial to building empathy, so we may peacefully co-exist with one another. Ranger’s impact on our zoo and Los Angeles will never be forgotten, and he will be sorely missed.”
Born in the wild in Minnesota around Feb. 1997, Ranger was an orphaned cub taken in by a family and surrendered to the state’s Wildlife Rehabilitation Center. With the help of the Minnesota Zoo, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources transported Ranger to Los Angeles where he lived his entire life at the L.A. Zoo. While it is never an ideal situation to take animals out of their natural environment, this was the best-case scenario as Ranger had become accustomed to human interaction at a very young age, which would have inhibited his re-introduction to the wild.
“Ranger touched the lives of every animal keeper, volunteer, and docent who worked with him over the last 25 years,” said Beth Schaefer, director of animal programs at the Los Angeles Zoo. “Part of the reason why zoos exist is to help create a strong connection to the wildlife that lives around us, and Ranger was the best ambassador for his species in that way. When you would walk around Tiger Plaza, it was impossible to not see groups of people of all ages stopping to observe Ranger basking in the warm sun, eating berries or just lounging in his habitat. The L.A. Zoo will not be the same without him.”
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