Beloved black bear dies at Knoxville Zoo

Beloved black bear dies at Knoxville Zoo

"Otis" the black bear (source: Knoxville Zoo) "Otis" the black bear (source: Knoxville Zoo)

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - Workers and officials at the Knoxville Zoo are mourning the death of "Otis," a 15-year-old North American black bear.

Zoo officials say Otis appears to have died of acute onset pneumonia on Friday, December 6.

Otis was orphaned along with another juvenile bear, Milo, in Alaska in 1999. When it was determined they could not be released back into their native habitat, they were brought to Fort Worth Zoo in Texas to be raised together.

Both bears came to Knoxville Zoo in 2001 to live in the newly constructed Black Bear Falls habitat.

A necropsy to determine Otis' cause of death was conducted at The University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine. Conclusive results will not be available for a few weeks.

Zoo officials say Otis' bear companions, Milo and female Ursula, seem to be aware of his absence, but are well-bonded and adjusting to the loss.

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