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Taronga Zoo has farewelled ‘Victoria’ the Sun Bear who passed away in her exhibit over the weekend.

Victoria was found early on Saturday morning inside one of the tree hollows of her lush outdoor area. Her companion, ‘Mr. Hobbs’ alerted Taronga’s dedicated Carnivore Keepers by acting strangely after receiving no response from the female bear when soliciting her attention. 

Taronga’s veterinary team are awaiting post-mortem results, but it is believed that the much loved bear passed away due to a potential pre-existing weakness of her diaphragm.

Victoria and Mr. Hobbs were rescued from a painful death in the Cambodian restaurant trade by expatriate businessman, John Stevens in 1997. Mr. Stevens bought the bears from tiny cages outside the restaurant before they could be dismembered alive and Sun Bear champion, Mary Hutton from Free the Bears Inc. found a home for them at Taronga Zoo.

Victoria’s Keepers are especially saddened by the loss, explaining the 16 old bear as one of their most loved animals, who despite having a traumatic start to life, was exceptionally intelligent, inquisitive and keen to please.

In recent years, Victoria enjoyed learning new behaviours from Zoo Keepers, including participating in training sessions to have her teeth cleaned to eradicate tartar build-up. She thrived in these sessions and loved the interaction with the keepers.

Taronga’s Carnivore Keepers will spend additional time with Mr. Hobbs in the coming weeks to help him adjust to the loss of Victoria.

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 Image Credit: Bobby-Jo Vial.

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