Ageing bear euthanised after court battle

  • 20/12/2015
Archie the bear (Andrew Davis/Medina Gazette)
Archie the bear (Andrew Davis/Medina Gazette)

A 41-year-old black bear named Archie has been euthanised following a permit dispute between his owners and the US state of Ohio.

Archie – one of the oldest known black bears in captivity – had been in failing health for months and wasn't expected to make it through hibernation.

Owners Jeffrey and Debra Gillium gave the bear a special big breakfast, which included a cream-filled doughnut and dog food mixed with tapioca pudding.

"He usually doesn't get stuff like that, but today was a special day and he loves his sweets," Ms Gillium told the Medina Gazette. "He licked the tapioca off my fingers."

The bear's owners had rescued him from "a terrible situation", finding him skin and bones in a tiny cage with no water.

They had been fighting to keep Archie after they failed to get a permit when Ohio tightened restrictions on keeping dangerous animals.

But the Gilliums had argued the bear's age made it unlikely he would escape from his enclosure. Moving or tranquilising him could also threaten his life, they said.

The bear had been cared for since 1981, but the Gilliums' permit expired in 2013, following the law change. The US Department of Agriculture took over enforcement of the new permit system after an Ohio man released dozens of exotic animals – including African lions and Bengal tigers – at his property in 2011 before killing himself.

The Department of Agriculture says the Gilliums' application for a permit was submitted long after the deadline.

"It's been hard on us physically," says Ms Gillium. "We got too attached to Archie. I can say that I never regretted one day of taking care of him because he was just so sweet and loving."

3 News