Maple, kodiak bear at city zoo, put to sleep after bouts with illnesses

January 31, 1999|By Scott Higham | Scott Higham,SUN STAFF

Keepers at the Baltimore Zoo are mourning the death of a longtime resident.

Maple, a 25-year-old kodiak bear, was put to sleep Thursday afternoon after suffering through a bout of diabetes and other age-related illnesses, zoo officials said.

One of two kodiaks at the 123-year-old zoo, Maple never responded to a series of treatments during the past year.

Because she could not move or keep her food down in recent weeks, zoo keepers decided it was time to say so long to the beloved but sometimes cantankerous bear.

"It's always sad when you lose a long-term resident," said Roger C. Birkel, the zoo's executive director.

Maple's death leaves Junior as the zoo's only kodiak, the largest land-based carnivore in the world. It takes its name from an island off the coast of Alaska. Maple was considered small for her breed, weighing between 500 and 600 pounds and standing about 8 feet tall on her hind legs.

Maple was born at the Memphis Zoo and transferred to the Riverbanks Zoo in Columbia, S.C. She came to Baltimore in 1982 but never hit it off with Junior, the zoo's male kodiak bear.

As Maple aged, her health started to fail. She had cataract surgery and developed diabetes. Keepers asked out-of-state experts for medical help, but Maple couldn't recover.

Pub Date: 1/31/99

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