Remembering Takoda: The Oregon Zoo Mourns the Loss of a Beloved Black Bear

The Oregon Zoo is sad because Takoda, the zoo’s youngest black bear, died suddenly and unexpectedly during a routine medical procedure on Friday, 7 April 2023.

“It is just devastating for the zoo staff and the entire zoo community,” said Travis Koons, who oversees the zoo’s Great Northwest area. “Takoda brought so much joy.

He was the life and spirit of the group of black bears and the care staff. Everyone loved him — from the older bears who adopted him into their group to the keepers who cared for him every day to thousands of fans on social media. It is heartbreaking.”

A statement from the zoo says that Takoda had a heart attack while under anesthesia for a routine health check.

“Our vet staff did everything possible to bring him back,” he said. “They were performing CPR for over half an hour but couldn’t revive him.”

Takoda came to the Oregon Zoo in November 2010. His name means “friend to all” in Sioux. As a cub, he was left alone in Montana and found hungry and dehydrated, weighing less than 3 pounds.

Wildlife officials found the young cub and nursed him back to health. He couldn’t return to the wild, so he was moved to Black Bear Ridge at the zoo.

“During his first eight years at the zoo, Takoda wowed visitors and staff each spring by climbing a 50-foot Douglas fir tree in his habitat to feast on the new growth near the top. His companions — Cubby, Tuff and Dale — would wait below to catch whatever dropped while Takoda was foraging.”

“It was breathtaking to see a 400-pound bear so high up in one of those giant trees,” Koons said. “A little scary for us, to be honest, but black bears are natural climbers.”

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Koons said he no longer climbed to those heights once he was an adult, but you could still count on him to tell you when the seasons changed. On hot days, he was known for playfully relaxing in a sturdy 300-gallon tub that his caretakers kept filled with cool water.

“He loved splashing around in his tub,” Koons said. “He was spunky, brilliant and an incredible, fun-loving individual.”

Oregon Zoo YouTube Channel Shared a Tributing Video; see Below

YouTube video
Jessa Martin

Jessa Martin is an accomplished news writer with a passion for keeping the community informed about the latest events and happenings in Hillsboro and the surrounding areas. With a keen eye for detail and a knack for storytelling, Jessa has become a go-to source for breaking news and in-depth reporting.As a news writer for, Jessa covers a wide range of topics, from local politics and government to community events and human interest stories. Their writing is always informative, insightful, and engaging, offering readers a deeper understanding of the issues that matter most to the people of Hillsboro.

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