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City of Idaho Falls News

Posted on: October 4, 2023

Idaho Falls Zoo mourning passing of beloved Sloth Bear

Sloth Bear for PR MIck

IDAHO FALLS – The Idaho Falls Zoo animal care team is sad to announce the passing of the beloved male sloth bear Mick.

At nearly 25 years old, Mick was the oldest breeding sloth bear in AZA’s Species Survival Plan (SSP) population. After animal care staff noticed Mick was acting abnormally, a thorough physical exam was completed by the zoo’s veterinary team. Kidney failure, liver failure, and other "old age" related complications were uncovered.

“Sometimes the toughest decisions come when deciding the most compassionate and humane thing to do for our animals we care for and love so much,” said Idaho Falls Zoo Director David Pennock. “Considering Mick's quality-of-life and after discussions among veterinary experts and the zoo animal care team, we made the hard decision to humanely euthanize him.”

While Mick has passed, his contributions to the sloth bear population continue. Mick was part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ (AZA) Species Survival Plan (SSP) for Sloth Bears. SSPs are cooperative population management programs that help ensure the survival of selected species, most of which are threatened or endangered. As part of this program, Mick has spent the last 12 years at the Idaho Falls Zoo and fathered 9 cubs, many of whom now have cubs of their own.

Mick was a gentle giant and was often seen lounging in his hammock on exhibit, or napping on his bed or heated floor inside; he loved peanut butter and honey, and staff often treated him to these snacks.

“It’s always saddening when we lose what we truly consider a member of our family. Mick was a staff favorite and will be forever missed by the zoo, volunteers, and visitors alike,” Pennock said.

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Media Note: For more information or to schedule an interview with Zoo staff, please first contact City of Idaho Falls Public Information Officer Eric Grossarth at (208) 612-8562 or

About Idaho Falls Zoo at Tautphaus Park:  With more than 330 individual animals representing 130 species from all around the globe, the Idaho Falls Zoo is known as the “Best Little Zoo in the West.” Accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, the zoo participates in 44 Species Survival Plans. Learn more on our website. 

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