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Museum of Life and Science decides to euthanize black bear Yona after 10 hours of surgery

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    NORTH CAROLINA (WRAL) — The Museum of Life and Science announced the death of Yona, a 14-year-old black bear who has been part of the museum since 2010.

Veterinarians at the North Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine euthanized Yona on Friday.

“After 10 hours of surgery, with no other options, the need to euthanize Yona was heartbreaking but clear,” said Senior Director of Animal Care Sherry Samuels.

The museum said Yona started exhibiting signs of discomfort several weeks ago. A veterinarian discovered she was having issues with her urinary and reproductive tracts that required surgery.

Yona was taken to NC State this past week, where a team of more than 50 people — veterinarians, technicians and students — worked to help Yona.

Unfortunately, as the day progressed, the veterinarians discovered additional issues. Despite numerous attempts to address Yona’s medical problems, it became evident that there was no way to fix her condition.

Yona’s story Born in February 2009, Yona arrived at the museum from the Appalachian Bear Rescue (ABR), an organization dedicated to the rehabilitation and release of injured black bear cubs. It was determined that Yona would have difficulty thriving in the wild because of her interest in human contact.

“From the beginning, she was an active and somewhat silly bear,” Samuels said. “Finding her lying on her back playing with tree limbs or enrichment toys and apparently enjoying her time in our habitat were regular sights. Upside-down, feet in the air, was how I would mostly see her in the early years. Actually, on our drive back to Durham in 2010, she was lying on her back, feet up, half rolling in the crate, for the majority of the ride. Even as an adult, sleeping for her occurred regularly with feet up.”

Yona was just under a year old when she came to the museum in January of 2010.

“As I drove into the Museum parking lot with Yona in January 2010, I decided I did not want to have the discussion about what we should name her, who would name her, how it would be decided,” Samuels wrote in a blog post . “So, I lied. I just lied. I said she already had a name.”

“Yona, the Cherokee word for bear. One of the best decisions I’ve made.”

The museum said Yona will be missed dearly by staff and visitors. She leaves behind Mimi, Gus and Little Bear — the three remaining black bears at the museum.

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