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One of Cheyenne Mountain Zoo's longest residents has died

Honey and her sister were ambassadors for their species since the 1990s.
Credit: Cheyenne Mountain Zoo

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Honey, a female Asiatic black bear at Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, has died at 29.

Cheyenne Mountain Zoo said Honey began showing signs of sudden illness and pain Friday morning. After an exam in the zoo's veterinary hospital, the decision was made to euthanize Honey after serious age-related conditions were discovered.

Honey, who came to the Colorado Springs zoo with her sister, Beezler, when they were less than two years old, lived nearly 28 years at the zoo.

At the time of her passing, Honey was the oldest-known Asiatic black bear currently living in human care, tied with her sister, according to Cheyenne Mountain Zoo. Her age met the median life expectancy of females of her species, which is 29.3 years.

The zoo estimates millions of guests saw Honey over her lifetime. Asiatic black bears are currently housed in only four North American zoos accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.

Zoo officials said the relationship between the sisters and their unique personalities were part of what made the pair so special.

Credit: Cheyenne Mountain Zoo

"I had walked by their exhibit for years, but until I met and started working with them a couple of years ago, I never realized how cool they were," said Courtney Rogers, lead animal keeper for Honey and her sister. "Even though they were sisters and lived together all their lives, Honey and Beezler had very different personalities. We often described Honey as a ‘sweet old lady,’ but she could also be super assertive at times."

Other than the occasional squabbles over food, the sisters had a close relationship and typically chose to spend time together. Even though they had the option for separate sleeping dens, keepers usually found them sleeping near each other in the same space in the morning.

Cheyenne Mountain Zoo keepers said they will keep an extra-close eye on Beezler, as she adjusts to Honey being gone.

Beezler spent time with Honey on her final day, even cleaning her paws off for her. Keepers said they will continue to give Beezler extra attention in the coming days and weeks, to help make the transition easier for her.

Credit: Cheyenne Mountain Zoo
Credit: Cheyenne Mountain Zoo

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