The Alaska Zoo recently reported the death of Caesar, the alpaca, after a wild brown bear broke into the zoo grounds. Although the bear escaped at first, it was euthanized after returning to the zoo.
With the help of Fish and Game officials, cameras were set up to keep track of the brown bear. The footage revealed that it was flipping trash bins. Biologist Dave Battle shared that they "typically remove brown bears that start accessing trash." Brown bears sometimes attempt to protect sources of food like dumpsters and may attack people and other animals.
The brown bear dug under one of the chainlink fences before it roamed around the zoo and encountered the alpacas. It killed Caesar, the older male alpaca, as Fuzzy Charly Kozak could escape the bear attack.
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Losing Caesar to the Wild Bear
Lampi said that despite the wild bear's bad habits, the staff was still sad that they had to put it down. "We care deeply about all animals and feel saddened by the deaths on both sides of the situation." He also reminded local neighborhoods "to stay vigilant with bear safety protocols" since wild bears are still active and continue to gather resources before they hibernate in the winter.
Officials also already had plans to put down the bear even before it targeted the alpacas. Patrick Lampi, the zoo's executive director, shared that Caesar was a crowd favorite and the zoo's unofficial mascot. He also added that brown bears are occasionally spotted in the area and typically don't cause problems.
In the early 1990s, a wild bear, known as Trouble, repeatedly broke into the zoo. But instead of causing mayhem, the bear hung out with the zoo's other brown bears. Development Director Myer shared that the brown bears "would hang out through the fence and touch noses. And they were just good friends." Trouble was soon sedated and was transferred to another zoo.
Myer shared that Caesar was a very personable fellow and was close to everyone. The staff is especially heartbroken to lose him in this way.
History of Alpacas
Alpacas are domesticated pack animals native to South America's Andes Mountains. They are part of the camel family and are slightly smaller than llamas. Unlike other camels, they have no humps and have a heavier fleece coat.
They used to be domesticated animals thousands of years ago, according to archaeologists, by Peruvian tribes. They were also highly valued by the Incan civilization as their fleece was reserved for royalty.
When the Spaniards colonized South America, alpacas were viewed as competitors for their sheep's grazing land. At the time, the small camel nearly became extinct as they were slaughtered for meat. However, the alpacas still survived because of the Incas in the Andes mountains.
By the 1980s, North America, Australia, and New Zealand imported alpacas where the environmental conditions allowed the animals to thrive. Now thousands of alpacas live in Australia and the United Kingdom.
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