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Ranger, The 'Highly Intelligent' Black Bear Of The LA Zoo, Dies At 25

A black bear on a wooden area outside looking off to the side.
Ranger, the 25-year-old black bear, died on Wednesday. Declining health and old age led the Los Angeles Zoo to euthanize him. He loved hanging out in the pool, sunbathing and eating berries.
(Jamie Pham)
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The Los Angeles Zoo's elder ursine statesmen has passed on to the big woods in the sky.

For over two decades, Ranger the black bear would sunbathe and climb his mountain. He was never far from the pool or a good dig, but declining health and old age led to euthanizing him. Ranger died on Wednesday; he was 25.

He is remembered fondly by the Zoo staff, according to the L.A. Zoo's Director of Animal Programs Beth Schaefer.

"Keepers that worked with Ranger describe him as highly intelligent," Schaefer said. "He had a very big presence. He was very self-assured."

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The land was his land, a dominion under his thumb, or, claw, rather.

"I loved watching him do the things he loved to do, like seeing him up on the mountain," Schaefer continued, "Basically, surveying his kingdom was always so amazing to me."

Ranger was only a cub when a Minnesotan family found him abandoned; they quickly realized he would be a whole lot of work and reported him to a wildlife agency.

He would end up at the L.A. Zoo in 1997 and remain there after the zoo determined he had too much human interaction to be re-introduced to the wild.

Schaefer told LAist about his happy habits.

"He had a hammock bed, and he would snooze on that hammock like we do when it's nice and warm outside."

She says, watching people fall in love with Ranger reinforced why he was at the zoo -- to connect guests with wildlife.

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