Un­bear­able sad­ness at wildlife park

Or­phaned black bear cub Lit­tle Bear dies sud­denly

Cape Breton Post - - Front Page - BY CAPE BRE­TON POST STAFF

An or­phaned black bear cub that cap­tured the hearts of thou­sands of peo­ple is dead.

Lit­tle Bear, a star at­trac­tion at Two Rivers Wildlife Park, died Mon­day af­ter­noon at 1:45 p.m.

“It’s a com­plete shock to ev­ery­body,” said park at­ten­dant Jar­rett Lewis.

Ac­cord­ing to the park, Lit­tle Bear, who was about one and a half years old, seemed to be ail­ing on Fri­day. He was taken to Syd­ney An­i­mal Hospi­tal where he un­der­went mi­nor ex­ploratory surgery. While he was ex­pected to make a full re­cov­ery, his con­di­tion sud­denly wors­ened and he died.

Lewis said staff can only spec­u­late about the cause of Lit­tle Bear’s death. His re­mains have been sent to the At­lantic Ve­teri­nary Col­lege in Charlottetown, P.E.I., for a necropsy and it could be weeks be­fore they know the re­sults.

“We’re try­ing to come up with ideas our­selves,” said Lewis. “It could be the pneu­mo­nia that af­fected him when he was a baby.”

Lit­tle Bear ar­rived at the park in May 2016 but was in dan­ger of be­ing eu­th­a­nized if the park couldn’t meet Nova Sco­tia De­part­ment of Nat­u­ral Re­sources reg­u­la­tions that re­quired an 18,000-square-foot en­clo­sure.

The pub­lic ral­lied be­hind the cause, do­nat­ing most of the $40,000 needed to build the en­clo­sure. The first phase of con­struc­tion was com­pleted a cou­ple of weeks ago when a swim­ming pool was added.

“It’s not just the im­pact he had here, it was across Canada,” said Lewis. “We had a lot of peo­ple do­nat­ing from the United States too, and even peo­ple call­ing for up­dates on how the new en­clo­sure is com­ing along. He just had a brand-new pool open up to him. The first phase is done of his new en­clo­sure and then tragedy strikes.”

The en­clo­sure won’t be empty for long, how­ever. Another or­phaned black bear cub was brought to the park in the spring af­ter her mother was elec­tro­cuted while climb­ing a trans­mis­sion pole in In­ver­ness County. The cub, named Natalie af­ter famed Cape Bre­ton fid­dler Natalie MacMaster, has been quar­an­tined at the park and was in the process of be­ing slowly in­tro­duced to Lit­tle Bear. Her sis­ter, who was ini­tially taken to Shube­nacadie Wildlife Park, re­cently joined her at Two Rivers be­cause the Stewiacke fa­cil­ity didn’t have a suit­able en­clo­sure.

“They were all go­ing to be in there to­gether,” said Lewis.

While Two Rivers was re­ceiv­ing an out­pour­ing of sym­pa­thy from the pub­lic on its Face­book page, a for­mal cer­e­mony will likely be staged for peo­ple to mourn Lit­tle Bear’s death.

“We have to do some­thing big. It’s all just so shock­ing to us right now but there will be some­thing planned for sure,” said Lewis, who added that the park re­cently for­mally changed the op­er­at­ing name of its camp­ground to Lit­tle Bear Camp­ground.

“Now it will be a great me­mo­rial to him.”

SHARON MONT­GOMERY-DUPE/CAPE BRE­TON POST

In this July file photo, Lit­tle Bear bal­ances on a log inside his en­clo­sure at Two Rivers Wildlife Park. The or­phaned cub, which be­came a star at­trac­tion at the park and in­spired the pub­lic to do­nate nearly $40,000 for his en­clo­sure, died sud­denly Mon­day af­ter­noon.

SHARON MONT­GOMERY-DUPE/CAPE BRE­TON POST

In this July file photo, Lit­tle Bear cools off in the pool inside his en­clo­sure at Two Rivers Wildlife Park. The or­phaned cub, which be­came a star at­trac­tion at the park and in­spired the pub­lic to do­nate nearly $40,000 for his en­clo­sure, died sud­denly Mon­day af­ter­noon.

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