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ASHEBORO, N.C. (WGHP) — The North Carolina Zoo has released a statement on the death of their grizzly bear Tommo.

According to the statement:

The 31-year-old bear’s quality of life quickly declined to the point that the Zoo’s staff made the difficult decision to euthanize him this week. 

The North Carolina Zoo

Tommo came to the North Carolina Zoo in 1995. He had been a “nuisance bear” in Yellowstone National Park, and the zoo was able to provide him a home.

“I had the privilege to work with Tommo for over 26 years,” said Chris Lasher, an animal management supervisor at the Zoo who was here when Tommo arrived in 1995. “He was an amazing, goofy and handsome bear. He never stopped surprising his caretakers with his intelligence and his ability to learn.” 

Dr. JB Minter, the Zoo’s director of animal health, says Tommo’s health had been declining over the past week. “Due to his advanced age and the unknown causes of the severe clinical signs being noted, the animal care and veterinary team made the difficult decision to humanely euthanize Tommo,” Minter said.

“Tommo was such a great ambassador for grizzlies in the wild.  His story highlights the continuing issues of bear-human conflict and our need to find ways to help, said Pat Simmons, the Zoo’s CEO and Director.

The grizzly bear habitat at the Zoo will remain empty for now. The Zoo will work with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services, and the Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks to provide a home for any orphaned or nuisance bears in the future. 

Tommo was 31 and weighed 700 pounds. In the wild, male grizzlies live about 22 years and weigh 400-700 pounds.