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NC Zoo mourns death of 'goofy' grizzly bear named Tommo

Tommo arrived at the North Carolina Zoo in 1995 after being identified as a "nuisance bear" in Yellowstone National Park.

ASHEBORO, N.C. — The North Carolina Zoo is grieving the loss of Tommo, their beloved grizzly bear. 

Tommo was 31 years old and lived at the Zoo for 26 years. 

The bear's quality of life was declining, so the Zoo's staff made the decision to put him to sleep this week. 

Tommo came to the Zoo in 1995 after being identified as a "nuisance bear" in Yellowstone National Park. He'd been relocated twice by the Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks. 

Credit: NC Zoo
Tommo the grizzly bear

Nuisance bears have lost their fear of humans because they start to associate people as suppliers of food. This happens when people don't properly secure their food while out in the wilderness. 

Bears like Tommo usually end up being put down because they can be a threat to humans, but the Zoo was able to give him a home to live a long, healthy life. 

Zookeeper Chris Lasher has worked with Tommo ever since he arrived in 1995. 

"He was an amazing, goofy and handsome bear. He never stopped surprising his caretakers with his intelligence and his ability to learn," Lasher said. 

Zoo staff said Tommo loved his toys and searching his habitat for treats. He also loved his pool and the waterfall and would spend hours soaking in the water, no matter the temperature. 

With the loss of Tommo, the grizzly bear habitat at the Zoo will remain empty for now. The Zoo will work with other wildlife organizations to offer a home for any orphaned or nuisance bears in the future. 

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