Durrell 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 today. 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.
‘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 bears 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 this 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.
Mark Brayshaw, Head of Animal Collection at Durrell said:
“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.”