Zoo’s Andean Bear Has Inoperable Cancer

The Racine Zoo family sadly announced that Hallie, their Andean bear, has inoperable cancer, and she will live out the rest of her days as comfortable as animal care specialists can make her.

Hallie’s cancer was discovered May 19 during a routine dental exam, and she was diagnosed with oral squamous cell carcinoma, a type of oral cancer. The bear’s cancer is inoperable because surgery would require removing her entire lower jaw, and reconstruction would be impossible.

The news hit zoo keepers hard.

“We are devastated by this news,” said Theresa Donarski, curator of conservation and animal care, in a written statement. “Unfortunately, cancer does not discriminate. It’s common for animals to be diagnosed with cancer especially as they get older. Hallie is a wonderful animal and it never gets easier when we get this type of news.”

Hallie, 29, was born January 14, 1986. The average lifespan of an Andean bear in captivity is around 22 to 25 years. She will remain off-exhibit.

Staffers made the decision – with input from the Special Species Health Service of University of Wisconsin Service – to give Hallie the best life possible for the rest of her days, however many are left to her.

“Zoo staff decided against surgery and will ensure she has a good life for as long as possible, whether two days or two weeks, and as long as she is not in pain,” the release reads.