Lufkin zoo's black bear, Brutus, dead at 29

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - Brutus, Ellen Trout Zoo's North American black bear, died Thursday, due to age-related causes, the zoo announced Friday. He was 29.

According to zoo director Gordon Henley, Brutus suffered what appears to have been a condition of a central nervous disease. Zoo workers took him off exhibit and moved him to the facility's animal hospital, where he could be closely watched and cared for. He died Thursday morning in front of zoo employees.

Brutus came to the zoo in August of 1984 as a confiscation by Texas Parks and Wildlife. As a cub, his previous owners declawed Brutus, which led to arthritic conditions in his forelegs as he aged.

For most of his life, he was the only black bear exhibited in East Texas and western Louisiana, making him the mascot for the East Texas Black Bear Taskforce.

"When he breathed his last and we had to take him out of that holding pen, people would pet him and say goodbye to him," Henley said. "It was pretty tough."

For now, the zoo has no immediate plans to replace Brutus.

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