Asiatic black bear at the Philadelphia Zoo dies

Ben, an Asiatic black bear at the Philadelphia Zoo, has died after being treated for squamous cell carcinoma. He was 23 years old.

"We are very sad for this loss. Ben was a remarkable individual and will be missed by the many who came to visit him," said Dr. Andy Baker, Chief Operating Officer at Philadelphia Zoo. "He received great care from his keepers and the veterinary team during a long and healthy life here. He was an important ambassador to wild bears, who are increasingly threatened with habitat loss and by poaching, often for parts used in traditional medicines in Asia." said Dr. Baker.

Ben's keepers noticed a non-healing wound on Ben's front paw in April. The wound was treated, but it did not get better. In June, the Zoo's veterinary staff diagnosed the malignant skin tumor after a biopsy. The staff then consulted with professionals from the University of Pennsylvania Veterinary School, opting for surgery in order to prevent the spread of the tumor.

Ben appeared to be on the mend through the summer months, but developed more issues with the area where the tumor had been removed in September. Another biopsy in October showed the cancer had returned and was deeper in the paw. After consultations with veterinary oncologists and surgeons, it was decided that euthanasia was the most humane option for Ben.

Ben was born at the National Bridge Zoological Park in Virginia in August 1994. He arrived in Philadelphia in April 2002. In his time in Philadelphia, Ben was one of the most loved and popular animals with the Zoo.