The bear Spice Girls
Shubenacadie’s Spice Girls get vet’s OK
The Spice Girls may be getting old, but they’re not ready to lumber off the stage just yet.
Cinnamon and Ginger, two female black bears at the Shubenacadie Provincial Wildlife Park will not be put down.
A veterinarian’s report shows that while the 21-year-old sisters have some arthritis and possibly diabetes, they can continue living at the park.
“They are in good health and able to stay alive in comfort,” Natural Resources Minister of Zach Churchill said Friday. “It’s not a medical necessity to euthanize them.”
The black bears arrived at the wildlife park two decades ago as orphaned cubs.
At less than 400 grams in weight, the sisters were hand fed and raised by park staff.
But last fall park staff noticed that Cinnamon and Ginger were losing weight. They increased calories in the bears’ diet and prevented hibernation to counter the weight loss problem, which was reversed.
But on a tour of the wildlife park in April, Erin Lynch, a graduate of Dalhousie University’s animal science program, said a guide revealed that both bears would be put down in a matter of weeks.
She shared the black bears’ looming fate with The Chronicle Herald, which sparked calls for a review of the decision.
Although park officials refused to comment on the planned euthanasia, a Facebook post explained that there are “significant challenges” involved in trying to house older and younger bears together.
The Shubenacadie park had recently added two younger orphan bears.
“This is a great outcome for those bears,” said Lynch. “It’s great news and it makes bringing attention to this matter worth while.”
If a veterinarian had decided that the bears were sick and needed to be put down, she would have understood, she said.
“The bears aren’t spring chickens, that’s for sure,” the Wyses Corner, Halifax County, resident said. “I wouldn’t want to see them suffer. But I wanted to make sure all of the options were looked at.”
Despite a relatively clean bill of health, Cinnamon and Ginger are still getting to the end of the average life expectancy. Bears in captivity usually live to be about 22 years old.
“They are getting up there,” Churchill said, noting that “staff will keep a close eye” on the health of the bears.
In addition to closely monitoring the health of the aging Spice Girls, park staff will treat the bears’ arthritis and diabetes through a special diet and medications.
The black bears will remain in their usual enclosure for park visitors to view.