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20-year-old bear at Durham museum dies

Posted October 18, 2011
Updated October 19, 2011

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— A bear that lived at the Durham Museum of Life and Science for almost 20 years has been euthanized because of lameness in her hind legs.

Ursula was euthanized Tuesday, several days after her back legs gave out. The museum's consulting veterinarian said she and other medical experts believe Ursula suffered from degenerative joint disease.

On July 8, Ursula was moved from the museum's public exhibition and placed on restricted activity. She was prescribed both anti-inflammatory and pain medications.

She returned to the exhibit Oct. 3, but her back legs gave out Thursday.

"Without the use of her back legs, the decision to euthanize Ursula, while heartbreaking, became clear," Sherry Samuels, the museum's animal department director said.

Ursula was about 9 months old when she arrived at the museum in October 1991. Wildlife officials had confiscated her from someone who kept her illegally.

Caretakers described Ursula as a silly and playful youngster, who grew into a cranky adult and later, as a senior, turned into a sweet and amusing old girl.

"She will be missed. She will be missed by many," Samuels said.


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  • countrycop27869 Oct 18, 2011

    She was rescued from someone keeping her illegaly, why couldnt they have done that with the deer in Randolph County?

  • CAPITALPUN Oct 18, 2011

    Rest in peace Ursula you will be Missed by many little faces....

  • davisdwain2 Oct 18, 2011

    Bless you, Ursula. You brought so many happiness ~

  • unitedwestand Oct 18, 2011

    So sad. I remember her from when I worked at the Museum in 2001. She was a favorite among the staff. RIP Ursula :(

  • Killian Oct 18, 2011

    She was a gorgeous animal. I'm glad she died peacefully, in a safe environment where she was comfortable. RIP Ursula.

  • jncna2 Oct 18, 2011

    Rest in peace Ursula

  • beach2011 Oct 18, 2011

    She was an asset to the Museum - have visited her since she was a baby! Will be missed. RIP!! Thanks to all the caregivers at the Museum!

  • The7thSeal Oct 18, 2011


  • Dreamin of Disney World Oct 18, 2011

    How sad. I didn't know she had been having problems. My children loved to see her when they were younger. Sleep sweet Ursula.