Four ‘overly friendly’ bear cubs have been euthanized for mysterious illness

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Four overly friendly bear cubs, who exhibited dog-like behavior, have been euthanized over the course of the past year. As reported by Yahoo News, experts think that the bears are suffering from a mysterious illness which is impacting their brain.

Last week, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife issued a report about the condition, which appears to be causing inflammation in bear cubs’ brains. The report states:

Necropsies on the afflicted bears have confirmed encephalitis but the root cause of the disease remains a mystery. During their investigations into the cause, scientists have discovered five novel viruses – previously unknown and unidentified – though their relationship to the condition and the neurological disorders remain unknown.

The wildlife agency notes that the bear cubs are uncharacteristically unafraid of humans, making interactions more common. Fish and Wildlife provided one such example of an afflicted bear, writing:

One such bear with a prominent head tilt became a social media sensation in 2019 when it approached a snowboarder at the Northstar ski resort, stepping onto the snowboard at one point and curiously sniffing a pant leg as the amused snowboarder filmed the interaction for Instagram.

That bear, dubbed Benji, was taken to the San Diego Humane Society’s Ramona Campus to live. The agency explained why saving these all of the sickly bears is too difficult:

These bears serve as something of a cautionary tale as neither fully recovered and both have required significant veterinary care, resources and treatment over time – expenses that are difficult for many wildlife facilities to absorb and limit the placement options for similarly afflicted bears in the future.

(Stock image of bear cub via Pixabay Free Images)

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