This morning Australasia’s oldest Kodiak Bear Bethyl, celebrated her 34th birthday which included a choir of Roar and Snore guests singing ‘Happy Birthday’ and a big pink birthday present. Inside was one of her favourite treats, a fresh whole Atlantic Salmon saved for occasions just like this. The Salmon was generously donated to her by a fisherman on the Central Coast.
Bethyl is one of the oldest Kodiak Bears in the world; she was born in Colorado Springs on the 17th of January 1977. She has been living at Taronga Zoo for around 25 years having moved here from Adelaide Zoo in 1985.
At 34 years of age Bethyl has exceeded the usual life expectancy of her species which is 15 to 30 years in the wild. With expert veterinary care and a constant supply of fresh food Bethyl is a testament to the dedication of keeping staff that care for her.
As one of the eldest bears in the world there have been some adjustments over the last couple of years to ensure she is always comfortable. Keepers have trained Bethyl to allow them to trim her nails, this is because she is less mobile and doesn’t wear her claws down naturally. They also scatter food all over the exhibit to make sure she stays active and healthy.
Kodiak Bears are the largest of the three sub-species of Grizzly or Brown Bear and the largest living land carnivore. This species of bear can stand up to three meters tall and weigh approximately 780kg. They are found only in three islands, Kodiak, Afognak and Shuyak off Alaska.