Northwest Trek Wildlife Park’s sole grizzly was euthanized Monday. Denali the bear was 26 years old.
Denali was 2 years old in 1993 when she joined the other animals at Northwest Trek near Eatonville.
She was one of the oldest grizzlies living at a zoo, and had developed arthritis that affected her movement.
Staff members at Northwest Trek used a variety of medical techniques to slow the progression of the disease, including chiropractic, acupuncture and herbal medicine treatments. Her keeper, Angela Gibson, built a bed for Denali.
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The bear’s condition deteriorated to the level where euthanization was the most humane option, Northwest Trek said in a statement Tuesday.
“The entire Northwest Trek staff is saddened by the loss of Denali,” zoological curator Marc Heinzman said. “She taught us all about the majesty and power of grizzly bears.
“Visitors made it a point to stop by her habitat to watch her scratch her back on a tree, cool off in her pool or simply lumber through the woods in search of food enrichments that keepers put out for her.”
Denali was the star of Northwest Trek’s annual Bear Camp, which teaches visitors how to safely coexist with bears.
After upgrades, the grizzly bear exhibit will have a new inhabitant, but the timetable is uncertain, said Kris Sherman, a Metro Parks Tacoma spokeswoman.
Parks board votes for grizzlies in North Cascades
Grizzly bears should be reintroduced to remote areas of the North Cascades, the Metro Parks Tacoma Board said Monday.
Commissioners approved a resolution to incrementally increase the number of grizzlies in the North Cascades over the next five to 10 years. Fewer than 10 bears remain in the region.
The resolution favors one of the four options in a draft of the North Cascades Ecosystem Grizzly Bear Restoration Plan/Environmental Impact Statement.
The National Park Service and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service are evaluating the future of grizzlies in the North Cascades.
For information, visit nwtrek.org/grizzlybears.