A 16-year-old alpaca named Caesar was killed by a brown bear on Saturday night, according to a press release sent out by officials from the Alaska Zoo. Wildlife officials had been informed about the incident around 4:30 am on Sunday. After an unsuccessful attempt to put the bear down on Sunday night, Wildlife officials were finally able to do so on Monday evening.
Fish and Game Biologist Dave Battle confirmed that Wildlife officials had received reports that the bear had been overturning dumpsters in the area. Sometimes bears are able to learn that by overturning dumpsters they are able to break the bear-resistant mechanisms that typically prevent them from accessing trash.
“It was very skittish. It was very nocturnal. It was a matter of it coming around in the middle of the night. I don’t think we had too many reports of it getting into residential trash. It was tipping dumpsters. When brown bears start tipping trash cans we have to put them down. A brown bear defensive behavior is to run away or to attack what it considers a threat. In this case, we determined that it would be best to remove this threat to public safety,” Dave Battle told the Landmine.
We reached out to Alaska Zoo Director Pat Lampi to ask where exactly the bear made it into the zoo. “It was in the back area of the zoo. It yanked on and tunneled underneath the perimeter fence,” Lampi said.
The USDA inspects these perimeter fences every year, and the standards they enforce did not seem to be enough to keep out the bear. Lampi added, “We have since reinforced it by adding steel cable at the bottom. Usually, we have wire at the bottom. But now we have steel. He tried to come back through that same spot the next night.”
When asked if an animal this size had ever gotten into the zoo, Lampi said, “Nothing of this size. The only other incident was twenty years ago when a younger bear had tunneled in. It wasn’t even half the size of this one.”
The press release from the Alaska Zoo stated, “While Caesar did unfortunately pass away during this incident, his companion alpaca/llama Fuzzy Charlie Kozak appears to be in good condition and was able to escape the attack, later found by staff within the zoo’s grounds and secured.”
Pat Lampi put out a plea asking the public to “stay vigilant with bear safety protocol in neighborhoods by securing trash and other attractants.” However, according to Fish and Game they had not received reports of this bear breaking into residential trash cans, instead mostly targeting dumpsters.