The “geriatric” bear named Francois developed a severe case of degenerative disc disease in his spine last year, according to a zoo press release.
“Francois’ condition deteriorated further over the last several days, and the decision was made to humanely euthanize Francois,” officials said.
Sloth bears usually live to be about 16 years old, officials noted. Francois, who was 25 when he died, beat the average by almost nine years.
The zoo’s other sloth bears, Hana, Hank and Remi, can be seen at the Zoo’s Asia Trail exhibit.
More information from the National Zoo press release:
From now through January 1, the National Zoo is helping to make the season bright… Like, really bright. It’s turning on more than 500,000 environmentally-friendly LED lights to transform the zoo into a winter wonderland.
There’s no monkeying around here. The annual ZooLights festival is in full-swing, and this year the celebration is bigger than ever, thanks to a few special features and activities.
In addition to the light displays, ZooLights also has snowless tubing down the Lion/Tiger Hill, a solar powered carousel and a model train display. If animals are more your thing, don’t miss out on the opportunity to take a picture with Panda Claws.
ZooLights is also holding a special “date night” on December 14 for local love birds, where guests will be given exclusive access to explore the wonders of courtship and breeding behaviors of some of the zoo’s animals. Did I mention it also includes champagne? Cheers to that.
ZooLights is open from 5 to 9 pm December 7-9, 14-23, 26-30 and January 1. For more information, visit the website.
While the rest of DC was busy dodging tornados and staying dry during Saturday’s derecho storm, I somehow found myself staking a “waterproof” tent into the saturated, muddy ground at the National Zoo.
That’s right. I was setting up camp for the night…. in the National Zoo. Just my husband and me spending time in nature with some of the world’s coolest animals (and an unexpected pack of eager Boy Scouts).
For those who seem a little surprised and confused on how one can sleep at the zoo, it’s through a program called Snore and Roar that Friends of the National Zoo (FONZ) hosts during the summer months.
The overnight included a flashlight-guided tour of the zoo, a keeper-led tour of an exhibit area and other animal-loving activities throughout the evening and morning. (Beware of the “other animal-loving activities.” I was expecting some transcending animal interaction where I would make best friends with a monkey and be the next Jane Goodall; I wasn’t expecting to dissect an owl pellet.)
Aside from derechos, owl pellets and Boy Scouts, the experience was quite fun. The evening flashlight tour brought out some of the Zoo’s nocturnal animals that hideout during the day. With the tour guides, I learned way more about the animals and their behaviors than I would from reading the signs outside each exhibit.
And while we didn’t make s’mores and sing Kumbaya by a campfire, I managed to achieve my idea of a quintessential nighttime camping experience by ending the evening in the tent with a bag of homemade cookies the latest Jason Segel movie on my iPad.
However, the highlight of the adventure was the keeper-led tour of an exhibit area the following morning. We signed up to be apart of the Asia Trail and on the tour I got to feed a sloth bear (and watch the bear brush her teeth), see the new fishing cat kittens, help wake up the otters and watch a giant panda eat a giant popsicle.
And the best part of the trip? I was less than a mile from my apartment the whole time. Who knew you could campout in the city and feel worlds away?
Note to readers: If you prefer fewer Boy Scouts and more cocktails, FONZ also hosts an “adults only” overnight that includes all of the animal interaction plus a wine and cheese event. For more information, visit the Snore and Roar website.