By Tiffany Glick
The most famous animal in Birmingham spent the day in the doctor’s office Wednesday being checked out from head to claw by the veterinarians at the Birmingham Zoo.
Early Tuesday morning, officials received calls that a black bear was loose in the urban Ensley neighborhood in west Birmingham. Animal control officers were able to sedate the bear and take him to the zoo for examination before it’s decided where he will go next.
Using enough anesthesia, veterinarians laid the 175 pound, middle-aged North American Black Bear on their exam table, checking for signs of trauma, wounds, parasites, signs of disease and if he had been shot. Once the vets compile their data, the information will be sent to the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources which will then decide where his new home will be.
No one is quite sure how the wild animal ended up in the heavily populated, urban area. Vice President of Animal Care and Conservation at the Birmingham Zoo Dr. Clay Hilton thinks his natural habitat could have been wiped out by the April tornadoes, or that he’s looking for a lady bear as it is mating season.
“It’s a little unusual that an adult, middle-aged bear is doing this,” Hilton said. “Usually it’s very young bears who are looking for a home range, or very old bears who have broken teeth or some kind of wound that makes them want to look around humans more.”
He said about every five to seven years the zoo receives a call about a bear, as the animal is native to the state. In Alabama, there are two distinct bear populations and luckily for them, their numbers are growing.
The zoo will have the bear for another few weeks before the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources makes its decision.
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