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Alaska Life

Jake the brown bear, an Alaska Zoo star for almost 4 decades, has died

Jake the brown bear watches as Oreo gets food out of a regular garbage can on May 8, 2011, during a Bear Aware event on Mother's Day at the Alaska Zoo. Jake was a chief tester of bearproof trash cans in Alaska, zoo officials said. (Bill Roth / ADN)

His roars won’t echo through the Alaska Zoo grounds anymore.

Jake, the oldest known living brown bear in captivity, died with the help of his caretakers this week, according to officials at the Anchorage zoo. He was 39.

Jake arrived at the zoo as an orphaned cub in the early 1980s. As a young bear, he was known to wave at visitors and play throughout his habitat. His roars alongside Izzy, another brown bear at the zoo, could be heard in the morning as the two played loudly.

“He was a really good-natured bear, kind of a goofball,” said Pat Lampi, Alaska Zoo executive director.

Thousands of visitors interacted with Jake over the years, Lampi said.

Jake had an impact. He participated in a dozen research studies with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game and others. He was the chief tester for bearproof trash cans in the state, zoo officials said.

And he was playful, even in his later years. After getting up from hibernation this spring, he was out with fellow bears Oreo and Izzy, shadowboxing and chasing one another.

Alaska Zoo's brown bear Jake. (Photo provided by Alaska Zoo)

But Jake began to lose mobility more severely, so zoo staff discussed his quality of life and made the decision to euthanize him.

“Everybody agreed,” Lampi said.

Former and current zoo staff said their goodbyes.

“He did live a really long good life here,” Lampi said.

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