Wednesday, 13 November 2019 13:09

North Carolina Zoo’s black bear Holly passes away

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ASHEBORO — Holly, a black bear who lived at the North Carolina Zoo for 24 years, was humanely euthanized on Wed., Nov. 6, 2019.  Holly arrived at the Zoo, along with another black bear male Yanu, on Feb. 13, 1995. Both were confiscated by the NC Wildlife Commission from an unaccredited roadside zoo in 1992 in Cherokee County. She was estimated to be 28 years old and wild-born. Her companion Yanu died at the Zoo in 2017.


Holly was diagnosed with oral neoplasia (an abnormal, cancerous growth) and the veterinarians made the hard decision to euthanize Holly due to her deteriorating quality of life. The rapid onset of disease caught the caretakers and veterinarians off guard as they were surprised by the size and extent of the mass. She had just had an exam in April of this year without any sign of the disease.

The black bear is an iconic North Carolina animal. Of the three species of bears found in North America — the polar bear, the brown (grizzly) bear, and the black bear — the black bear is the smallest and found predominately in North Carolina making this native species an important part of the state’s history and cultural heritage. 

Black bear populations decreased dramatically in the 1900s due to habitat loss and hunting for their fur and meat. The populations of black bears in the state are now stable and increasing because 500,000 acres of land have been designated as bear sanctuaries by the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission.

The black bear population in the state is estimated to be around 11,000, concentrated mainly in the mountains and coastal areas.

The black bear is a shy, non-aggressive animal that avoids human beings in most cases. Occasionally bears wander into towns or residential areas in search of food, but bears should never be fed human-processed foods, such as garbage, pet food, or bird food. Dependence on human food may cause bears to have increased interaction with people, which can cause them to become aggressive and dangerous.

To learn how to avoid human-bear contact, please visit www.bearwise.org.

Black bears, on average, are 5-6 feet in length and 2-3 feet on all fours. Adult females can weight 100-300 pounds and males 200-700 pounds. In the wild, they are estimated to live approximately 20 years.