NORFOLK, Va. — The Virginia Zoo announced on Thursday that 20-year-old Suntil the sun bear passed away.

On Facebook, the zoo said earlier this year, veterinary staff found a mass on Suntil during a routine dental exam. It was removed, but she was subsequently diagnosed with adenocarcinoma, a type of cancer that had started to show signs of spreading to other parts of her body. 

Afterward, Zookeepers and veterinary staff had been closely monitoring Suntil’s behavior and quality of life, particularly because she was considered an older bear.

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Recently, the zoo said Suntil needed to be sedated to receive stitches for a cut on her leg. Unfortunately, likely due to her advanced age and disease progression, she had major complications after anesthesia. Suntil ultimately did not recover from the procedure, so the decision was made to humanely euthanize her.

Samples will be submitted to an outside lab for further analysis which will help the zoo understand more about Suntil's cancer and help with our understanding of sun bears as a species.

The Virginia Zoo made the following statement on Facebook:

"Suntil was very much loved by the Keepers who cared for her every day and was a favorite for many other staff, volunteers and visitors to the Zoo. She inspired many to care about sun bears and will be deeply missed. Palu, our male sun bear, is doing well and Keepers will be spending extra time with him to ensure that he adjusts well to this loss."

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