Death at the zoo | Arkansas Blog

Death at the zoo


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One of my Little Rock Zoo favorites, a male sloth bear, has died of kidney failure.


“Snortin’ Norton,” a male sloth bear born at the Little Rock Zoo in 1992, died in his sleep after early medical tests suggested the bear was suffering kidney failure, a likely symptom of cancer. 

Preliminary necropsy results obtained by the Zoo yesterday afternoon show the bear had cancer in the liver and that the cancer had likely spread to other organs.  Zoo veterinarian Dr. Marilyn Baeyens said test results from other organs will be available soon.

Norton received his Snortin’ title from zookeepers as a cub because of the playful snorting noises he would make at his mother and other keepers.  Norton was transferred to a small zoo in Alabama in December of 1992 and was returned to the Little Rock Zoo in November of 2006. 

Keepers report Norton had been sick since January 23.  The bear’s appetite substantially decreased and Norton was showing uncommon signs of aggression toward his companion, Thor. Norton was being closely monitored by Zoo Veterinarian Dr. Marilynn Baeyens, who drew blood last Tuesday, and also two weeks ago, to test the bear for serious illness.  Baeyens said the test results showed the bear was in kidney failure.  He was treated for renal failure last week and yesterday. 

The Little Rock Zoo is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA).  Look for the AZA logo whenever you visit a zoo or aquarium as your assurance that you are supporting a facility dedicated to providing excellent care for animals, a great experience for you and a better future for all living things.  With its more than 200 accredited members, AZA is a leader in global wildlife conservation and your link to helping animals in their native habitats.  For more information, visit



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