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Oregon Zoo black bear dies suddenly of cardiac arrest

Black bear Takoda takes a soak in a tub at the Oregon Zoo.
Photo by Shervin Hess courtesy of the Oregon Zoo
Black bear Takoda takes a soak in a tub at the Oregon Zoo.

A black bear at the Oregon Zoo died unexpectedly Friday during a routine health check.

In a press release, zoo leaders said the bear, named Takoda, went under cardiac arrest while under anesthesia. Staff performed CPR for more than 30 minutes, but they couldn’t revive him.

Takoda arrived at the zoo in 2010 after he had been orphaned as a cub in Montana, according to the release. He was found hungry and dehydrated, and he weighed less than 3 pounds.

After he was nursed back to health, the young cub wasn’t able to be released back into the wild, so he was placed at the Oregon Zoo.

“It is just devastating for the zoo staff and really the entire zoo community,” Travis Koons, who oversees the zoo’s Great Northwest area, said in a statement. “Takoda brought so much joy. He was the life and spirit not only of the group of black bears but also the care staff.”

During his first years at the zoo, Takoda amazed zoo staff and guests by climbing a 50-foot Douglas fir tree to feast on new growth near the top. This also benefited his three bear companions, who would wait at the foot of the tree for whatever he dropped.

As he got older, he became more inclined to spend warm days in a 300-gallon tub of water.

“He loved splashing around in his tub,” Koons said. “He was spunky, amazingly smart and an incredible, fun-loving individual.”

Copyright 2023 Oregon Public Broadcasting. To see more, visit Oregon Public Broadcasting.

April Ehrlich began freelancing for Jefferson Public Radio in the fall of 2016, and then officially joined the team as its Morning Edition Host and a Jefferson Exchange producer in August 2017.