SALISBURY — The Salisbury Zoo this week had to say goodbye to its oldest resident, an Andean bear named Poopsie who had lived at the facility for nearly four decades and lived to the oldest age ever recorded for her species.
For the last few years, visitors to the Salisbury Zoo watched Poopsie as she enjoyed her golden years lounging in her hammock and taking life easy. Poopsie was born in 1973 and would have celebrated her 38th birthday in December. The average lifespan of an Andean bear in captivity is 25 years, far less than the life Poopsie led at the Salisbury Zoo.
However, as with any geriatric animal, mobility and appetite are major concerns and both had declined sharply for Poopsie over the last several weeks. Despite the animal care staff keeping a close eye on her overall condition with constant consideration to her quality of life, zoo officials on Wednesday decided to put her down.
“The bear’s appetite became depressed and some days she refused to eat her daily diet,” said Zoo Director Joel Hamilton. “Despite medication to help with the arthritic conditions in her hips and joints, her mobility and strength had become compromised, making it difficult for her to move around her exhibit. Some days, she would not leave the holding building. After examining her current medical condition, it comes with great sadness for the zoo staff to announce that she had to be euthanized.”
Poopsie was born in 1973 at the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore and came to the Salisbury Zoo seven months later in July 1974. The matriarch, who bore two litters of cubs, including two females in 1980 and two more in 1981, was known to zoo officials and countless visitors for her ease of care and sweet disposition.
While Poopsie had to be euthanized this week, her legacy lives on. Her cubs, all females, went on to zoos in Cologne, Nuremberg and Zurich abroad, and to the Lincoln Park Zoo in the U.S. The cub sent to Lincoln Park went on to become the first third-generation captive-bred Andean bear to produce cubs.
Over the decades, many zookeepers at the Salisbury Zoo, both current and retired, had worked with Poopsie and generations of visitors to the zoo were treated to her antics. For example, senior zookeeper Gary Muir this week recalled Poopsie was a good mother to her cubs. Salisbury Mayor Jim Ireton, Jr., said this week the popular bear would be missed at the zoo.
“It is a testament to the great care she received at the zoo that she lived to almost 38 years old,” he said. “Our thoughts are with the staff that has worked closely with her to provide the wonderful life. Poopsie is a part of the zoo’s history and she has made many friends along the way. This old bear will be greatly missed by the staff and the community.”