Racine Zoo shares passing of 28-year-old Andean bear 'Nora'

RACINE, Wis. (CBS 58) -- With heavy hearts, the Racine Zoo shared the passing of Nora, their female Andean bear, on Saturday, Aug. 15.

Nora had an aggressive cancer in her mouth, according to the zoo, and after consulting with experts and veterinary oncologists, it was concluded that humane euthanasia was the best option.

Nora lived to 28 years of age, surpassing expectations, the zoo says, as a typical life expectancy in the wild is only 20 years.

She moved from Beardsley Zoo in Connecticut and Cleveland Metroparks Zoo in Ohio, before moving to the Racine Zoo in 2016 to retire.

"Her gentle nature and charismatic personality inspired lifelong connections with guests and keepers alike," the zoo said in a press release.

The release says Nora was a keeper favorite with her sweet disposition, funny yoga positions while sleeping, and her love for grape jelly.

"You could often find Nora lounging on the big tire bed enjoying the sunshine, building a nest in the cave, or roaming the exhibit checking out the smells," the zoo said. "The keepers will definitely miss the cute little nests she made on her bed, how she had to sniff you before she'd shift onto exhibit, and the 'wave' she'd do when waking up from a nap, putting one paw in the air like she was saying hello."

The Racine Zoo says Andean bears have decreased in population from about 20,000 in the wild in the late 1990s to only about 10,000 today.

Nora's charisma inspired many to learn about and take action to protect her wild cousins. 

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