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Oatland Island's beloved black bear dies
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Baby Bear, one of Oatland Island Wildlife Center’s oldest animals and one of the oldest known black bears in the United States, died of heart failure Dec. 30 at the age of 28.

“He came to the center as a cub in 1981 from Grandfather Mountain and has been with us ever since,” says Oatland Director Chris Gentile. “He was undoubtedly one of the most popular of our residents and will be missed greatly.”

Another bear will eventually be acquired for Oatland Island, but Gentile says several renovations must be made to the Black Bear Woods exhibit first. “Black bears will always be part of the Oatland Island collection," he says. "Many animal rescue organizations are looking for good homes to place nuisance bears or abandoned cubs, so we should be able to able to add them again soon.”

The Oatland Island Wildlife Center is home to more than 150 animals from 50 different species exhibited in large natural areas, including the new Wolf Wilderness exhibit. It is a unit of the Savannah-Chatham County Board of Education, but is open to the general public.