An Alaskan brown bear was hungry for alpaca.
The weird headlines for 2020 just keep getting stranger and stranger by the minute. Authorities and zoo officials say The Alaska Zoo's most beloved attractions, an alpaca named Caesar, is dead after a brown bear broke in and killed him.
The Anchorage Daily News reports the strange incident happened September 20. The zoo, located in Anchorage, is surrounded by a perimeter fence, but that didn't stop the 600-pound male bruin from digging his way underneath it. Once through that, getting through the simple cedar split rail fence of the alpaca enclosure was likely a formality for the massive animal.
The zoo's location butts up against Chugach State Park, which is likely where the bruin wandered in from. The problem bear had already been in town for at least a week. Alaska Fish and Game biologist Dave Battle said the bruin had started breaking into bear resistant dumpsters near the zoo prior to the break-in.
"It usually takes a decent-sized brown bear to flip some of these dumpsters," Battle told the Anchorage News. "Typically, when brown bears start accessing trash, that becomes an elevated public safety threat."
Fish and Game officials staked out an area near the zoo Sunday night and managed to euthanize the bruin after it failed to break back into the zoo.
Zoo officials are deeply saddened to announce the passing of 16-year-old alpaca Caesar as well as a wild brown bear...
A second alpaca named Fuzzy Charlie that lived in the same enclosure was not harmed, although he was understandably frightened by the events that had transpired. Caesar had been a staple of the zoo for the past 15 years.
"He would walk up towards people and interact and sometimes spit on them if they upset him, but that's what members of the camel family do," zoo executive director Pat Lampi told the Anchorage Daily News.
The zoo plans to get another alpaca to replace Caesar and give the surviving Fuzzy Charlie some company in the pen.
Zoo officials are deeply saddened to announce the passing of 16-year-old alpaca Caesar as well as a wild brown bear euthanized by wildlife officials after entering the zoo at night, resulting in Caesar's death. https://t.co/tFke2f3eiR pic.twitter.com/VbJKSQIGtX
— The Alaska Zoo (@AlaskaZoo) September 23, 2020
On social media, the zoo answered concerned questions from upset visitors about the incident. In a tweet, the zoo noted a night person does do rounds once an hour. However, the damage to the fence was not discovered until it was too late. On Facebook, the zoo said they have since secured and reinforced the perimeter fence where the bear broke inside. The also zoo expressed sadness that the bear had to be euthanized in the incident. However, they also noted that there was no other choice because the bruin was already a proven problem animal.
"This issue is about a habituated bear that had been causing problems in neighborhoods escalating to what happened at the zoo," the zoo wrote on Facebook. "It is sad on all sides of the situation, but we will take what we can from it to learn and continue to promote bear awareness."