El Paso Zoo staff said goodbye to 28-year-old Andean bear, Guapo. He was euthanized Thursday morning due to age related issues from arthritis.
Zoo keeper and veterinary staff had been managing his health and determined that the prognosis for a good quality of life was poor, and humane euthanasia was the best course of action
“With many of our geriatric residents at the Zoo, we have to manage problems that we know will never go away and will be progressive over time. Keeping them as comfortable and active as possible is our goal, and Guapo was still enjoying life up until these last few days,” said Zoo Veterinarian Dr. Victoria Milne. “Eventually we run out of reasonable options and have to give them a humane and compassionate way out.”
Guapo had been receiving treatment for arthritis for approximately a year and a half. Within that time period, he had received increasing doses of medication and additional medications which were working successfully. Within the last couple weeks, animal care staff noticed that he wasn’t enjoying his exhibit like he normally did.
“He was good natured and very mellow. It was a pleasure to have cared for Guapo. He will be missed,” said Area Supervisor Tony Zydonyk. “Guapo loved his pool, had a favorite place to sleep and loved training sessions with his zoo keepers because he got treats. Guapo was food motivated and loved his enrichment. He would work on an enrichment toy all day if he had to in order to get all the treats out.”
Guapo was a cancer survivor. He was born at the Smithsonian National Zoological Park and came to the El Paso Zoo in 2009.
Median life expectancy for Andean bears is 26 years in a zoo setting. The only bear native to South America, Andean bears, also known as spectacled bears, are found in the mountainous regions of western Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia. Andean bears have suffered a dramatic decline due to deforestation over the past several decades. Andean bears are listed as “vulnerable” in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™ and are a part of the AZA Species Survival Plan® (SSP) Program.