Sloth bear at National Zoo euthanized

WASHINGTON — Francois, the National Zoo’s 25-year-old sloth bear, had to be euthanized Wednesday.

Francois had degenerative disc disease in his spine.

The National Zoo said the decision to euthanize Francois came after the sloth bear’s condition deteriorated over the last several days.

Since the staff at the zoo discovered the spine issues last December, veterinarians have administered anti-inflammatories and nerve-pain medications. Staffers have been taking the sloth bear’s blood pressure weekly, and even posted a video of training Francois to take part.

The zoo added mulch to the sloth bear’s enclosure to make it easier for him to get around.

Sloth bears typically have a median life expectancy into the their early- and mid 20s.

More will be known about Francois’ condition after a pathology report is done in the coming weeks.

Francois was born at the National Zoo in 1991, but lived from 2003 to 2010 at the Little Rock Zoo in Arkansas where he sired four cubs.

After he returned to D.C. in 2010, he had a cub with the zoo’s female sloth bear Hana in 2012 and then three cubs with Khali, another sloth bear. Only one of the cubs, Remi, survived.

While male sloth bears normally don’t take part in raising their offspring, Francois did.

“Due to Francois’ sensitive and social nature, he not only showed interested in Remi when she was still being hand-raised, but readily became her companion and helped teach her how to be a bear,” a news release from the National Zoo said.

“It was important for Remi’s social and behavioral development that she spend quality time with members of her own species. Keepers described Francois’ overall disposition as genteel, and his interactions with the Zoo’s other female sloth bears were playful and positive.”

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