KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Zoo Knoxville black bear Milo died Thursday due to age-related health issues. The bear was 22 years old.

Milo and his brother Odie were rescued by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game when their mother died in 1999, and were cared for at the Fort Worth Zoo before coming to Zoo Knoxville in 2001, where they lived out the rest of their lives in Black Bear Falls. 

Milo recently began exhibiting signs that he was struggling with painful arthritis, loss of appetite and other related health issues. He was being closely monitored over the last few weeks by his caregivers and the veterinary team from the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine, according to the zoo.

Despite treatment with pain medications and appetite stimulants, his quality of life continued to decline and the decision was made to humanely euthanize him when it became clear his condition was not improving.

Phil Colclough, director of animal care, conservation and education at the zoo, called Milo an ambassador for his species.

“Although Milo could not be released back into the wild, he helped tell the story of black bears in Appalachia and how we can coexist with and protect native wildlife,” Colclough said. “Milo was a special bear and he will be missed by us all.”

His companions Ursula, Monty, and Finn, will be given extra care and attention to help them adjust to the loss of Milo.

American black bears range throughout North America, from Canada to Mexico.  While in the past they occupied nearly all of the forested regions of North America, they are now restricted to areas less densely populated by humans.  Human and bear conflict, primarily due to wild black bears becoming habituated to human food sources, is one of the greatest threats to black bears.

Milo is the second animal to be euthanized this month at Zoo Knoxville. The zoo announced Oct. 22 African lion Jimmy was euthanized for age-related reasons.