Winnie was brought to the sanctuary in 1994 shortly after her mother was shot by hunters. She and another rescued cub, Buster, grew up together at the sanctuary and for over 20 years, she stole countless hearts from keepers and guests alike.
Recently, Winnie had been in declining health and a few weeks ago, things took a turn for the worse. Winnie was having trouble both standing and moving, and eating was becoming a struggle. Her quality of life had fallen to where staff had to make the gut-wrenching decision yesterday to euthanize her.
"Winnie has charmed tens of thousands of visitors. Hundreds of employees, board members, and volunteers have fallen in love with her... we move forward and thank Winnie for every smile she gave us, every person she helped to educate about bears, and all the happy memories she left us," the sanctuary said in an online statement Thursday.
Winnie was 26, which is a very respectable old age for a bear, according to the sanctuary.