Sloth bear euthanized at National Zoo

WASHINGTON — A sloth bear at the National Zoo was euthanized earlier this week after veterinarians discovered she had tumors that would greatly impact the quality of the remainder of her life.

A 21-year-old female sloth bear named Hana was humanely euthanized at the zoo Monday after zoo staffers discovered she had tumors affecting her liver, bile duct and gallbladder, the zoo said in a news release.

The zoo discovered the tumor after Hana was lethargic, showed signs of discomfort and a decline in appetite. Keepers, nutritionists and veterans worked together to help treat Hana by modifying her diet, and giving her medication based on blood tests that showed indicators of liver and/or gallbladder disease.

“While Hana’s condition initially improved following administration of these medications a few weeks ago, a marked decline in their effectiveness was noted during the past week,” the zoo said in a news release.

On Monday, the zoo veterinarians performed an exploratory surgical procedure and found the tumors. They then decided to euthanize her because of a poor long-term prognosis.

Typically, sloth bears live to their early-to-mid 20s when in human care, the zoo said.

Hana — described by zoo keeper as “a very relaxed bear” — was born at the Warsaw Zoo in Poland in 1994 and came to the National Zoo in 1998. She gave birth to two cubs, Balawat and Hank, at the National Zoo in 2006 and 2012, respectively.

Sloth bears are not related to sloths but were given that moniker by English settlers who named them due to their dark, shaggy coat and long claws.

Visitors can see the other sloth bears at the zoo’s Asia Trail exhibit.

Sarah Beth Hensley

Sarah Beth Hensley is the Digital News Director at WTOP. She has worked several different roles since she began with WTOP in 2013 and has contributed to award-winning stories and coverage on the website.

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