Caesar – a 16-year-old alpaca – was killed over the weekend by a wild brown bear who had broken into a zoo in Anchorage, Alaska. The bear was later euthanized by wildlife officials.
“We are deeply saddened by this tragic loss of both a wild bear and Caesar the alpaca,” said the director of the Alaska Zoo, Patrick Lampi. “We care deeply about all animals and feel saddened by the deaths on both sides of the situation.”
The trespassing bear had apparently been pawing through trash receptacles in the nearby neighborhood before moving on to the zoo. Ultimately the bear flipped over garbage bins at the zoo before digging under the facility’s chainlink fence to gain entry. Once inside, the bear roamed several hundred yards before the deadly encounter with Caesar.
“We typically remove brown bears that start accessing trash,” said Anchorage Area Fish and Game Biologist Dave Battle. “Every so often we get a brown bear that learns that when it flips over [the dumpsters]… it’s able to get into the trash.”
Fortunately, Caesar’s alpaca companion – “Fuzzy Charlie Kozak” – was able to safely escape and was found “wide-eyed” in a different section of the zoo.
Following the break-in, the Alaska Zoo reinforced the disturbed fencing and awaited the bear’s return. The creature came back both of the subsequent evenings before ultimately being shot and killed by a Fish and Game biologist Monday night.
Meanwhile, Caesar the alpaca is remembered fondly by those who knew him best.
“He was kind of the unofficial mascot of the zoo,” said Jill Meyer, the zoo’s development director. “Everyone feels just very close to Caesar, he’s a very personable fellow. It was heartbreaking to lose Caesar, especially in that way. To imagine the last moments of his life is really heartbreaking.”