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Iconic Phoenix Zoo bear euthanized due to bladder tumor

The bear came to the Valley zoo as a 10-month-old cub in 1996. She was euthanized after a tumor was found to be blocking her bladder.

PHOENIX — A beloved bear at the Phoenix Zoo was euthanized after a tumor was found to be blocking her bladder, zoo officials said.

The bear, named Rio, has been at the zoo since she arrived as a 10-month-old cub in 1996, the zoo said. She was known for having a big personality and doing things on her own time.

"If you could earn Rio’s trust, she was the sweetest bear in the world," a zoo carnivore keeper said. "She was always willing to train with keepers and she was an excellent painter! Some of her favorite activities were tapping her feet while she ate, looking through the window when keepers took too long, and remaking her beds when the keepers didn’t do it correctly."

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Credit: Phoenix Zoo

Zoo personnel first noticed something wrong with Rio when she started to become lethargic and stopped eating. A medical exam found she had a urinary tumor that would require extensive bladder resectioning with a high chance of being unsuccessful.

The decision to euthanize came out of a discussion between veterinarians, and zoo staff.

"We will miss her adorable face peering through the night house windows every afternoon to see how close her keepers were to serving her dinner," the zoo's Interim Carnivore Collection Manager said.

The zoo houses another Andean bear named Agapito, or "Auggie." The average lifespan for Andean bears is 26.1 years.

Credit: Phoenix Zoo

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