TOWNSEND, Tenn. (WATE) — The Appalachian Bear Rescue announced that “CranBeary Bear” died on Friday.
“It is with sadness we inform you that CranBeary Bear passed away early [Sunday] afternoon at The University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine,” Appalachian Bear Rescue (ABR) said on Facebook.
According to ABR, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park Service, the wildlife agency responsible for CranBeary, along with the specialists at the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine, made the decision to “release the little bear from prolonged suffering.”
ABR said the specialists discovered that CranBeary suffered from an irreversible, possibly genetic, malformation of his arm joints.
“Not only couldn’t CranBeary climb trees, he never could and never would. As he gained weight, he was having difficulty just walking and seemed to be in pain. Sadly, there was no future for CranBeary in the wild or in captivity in the wild or in captivity; very soon, his malformed joints would have left him completely immobile,” ABR said.
The curators saw that CranBeary was struggling to walk on the natural terrain of Wild Enclosure #3, sometimes stopping at a few paces. They also noticed the bear would go to his den, when startled, instead of climbing a tree for safety.
“There is no life in the wild for a bear who can’t climb and there’s no life anywhere for a wild bear who can’t walk,” ABR said.
CranBeary, along with his siblings, Peppermint and Mistletoe came to the facility on Dec. 6, 2022. CranBeary was about ten months old at the time and weighed 11 lbs.
“Apart from his low weight, he had a healthy appetite and was a curious, brave little bear. In hindsight, we know his low weight disguised his problems; there was less pressure on his joints and he seemed to move normally over the smooth, flat floors of Hartley House. There was nothing to climb, so no one suspected he couldn’t,” ABR said.
As the curators looked over CranBeary, they saw that he gained weight (40 lbs). However, his joints could not support his weight, according to ABR.
“We salute CranBeary’s late mother, who took care of a disabled cub for ten months. And we salute CranBeary himself for keeping up with his family for as long as he did. His siblings are thriving, so CranBeary seems to be the only one in his litter to have drawn the unlucky straw that doomed him at birth. We’re so sorry. Peace, CranBeary, peace,” ABR said.