ALPINE–Lions Tigers & Bears animal sanctuary staff and veterinarians are mourning the loss of a grizzly bear that was rescued in 2014 at a roadside zoo in North Carolina.
Albert the bear passed away on Friday while he was anesthetized for evaluation of a rapidly progressing upper airway disease, Bobbi Brink, founder and director of Lions Tigers & Bears wrote in a newsletter to supporters.
“Unfortunately, we found extensive infiltration throughout his nasal passages and sinuses, most consistent with certain types of destructive cancers. Due to the extent and severity of his disease, complications during his anesthesia, and poor prognosis, we said goodbye to Albert during his procedure.While samples were taken to help us understand the disease, we are glad to know that Albert is able to rest easily and free of pain.”
Brink recalled the day Lions Tigers & Bears staff, along with a rescue hauler, made the over 5,000 mile trek to North Carolina and back to the sanctuary in Alpine.
The staff rescued the captive bears: Silvertip grizzlies Albert, his sister Cherry Bomb, and Himalayan black bears, Teddy and Baloo outside Wilmington, North Carolina.
Albert and Cherry Bomb were born at Cherokee Bear Park, a roadside zoo in Cherokee known for displaying bears in concrete pits in deplorable conditions, according to Brink.
A lawsuit was filed against the facility in December 2013 for claims of violating the federal Endangered Species Protection Act. Teddy and Baloo were born at Tote-Em-In Zoo, another roadside zoo in North Carolina known for their questionable treatment of resident animals.
All four bears were declawed and have not received proper medical care in years. One of the bears suffered from neurological damage in his shoulder due to cramped confinement as a cub, according to Brink.
“Albert did make the leap, and it wasn’t soon after that he began to steal the hearts of our keepers, volunteers and so many of our members, visitors and supporters like you.” Brink said in a written statement. “Although I could never admit to picking a favorite, Albert stole my heart too, and he will always be a special rescue because he was one of those unique cases that truly defied the odds.”
Brink says pool-time was Albert’s Favorite time of day.
“Watching Albert splash in his pool was sure to bring a smile to your face. Soon after his keepers would clean Albert’s pool, he and Cherry Bomb would be right back out there trying to “catch” the water as it would stream back in to re-fill.”
She said Albert’s time has been cut short, but the moments he spent at Lions Tigers & Bears were filled with “love, laughter, and happiness and for that, we are forever grateful.”