Nacho, a much-loved black bear that has lived at the OC Zoo for more than11 years, died Feb. 14. He was 15 years old.
Nacho first came to the zoo in 2001 from the California Dept. of Fish and Wildlife. He came to the zoo because he had been orphaned at a very young age and could not be released to the wild because he would not have survived without a mother to care for him.
At the zoo he shared an enclosure with a female bear, Yo-Yo. The two were named by children during a contest held by the County.
“I can still remember the day when Nacho and Yo-Yo were introduced at the OC Zoo,” Orange County Supervisor Todd Spitzer, Third District, said. “They were among my children’s favorite animals there, and we’ll all miss seeing Nacho there very much.”
He amused hundreds of thousands of zoo visitors with his antics, like contentedly lumbering over to sit under a waterfall on hot days while the smaller and more nimble Yo-Yo perched atop a tree. He helped educate zoo visitors about the California black bear, including the fact that they aren’t always black – Nacho’s coat was a cinnamon brown color.
Nacho suffered from a variety of ailments, including epilepsy. Zoo staff and veterinarians provided care and treatment that helped extend his life beyond what it would have been in the wild. They truly cared for this bear and are deeply affected by his passing.
“We are very saddened by the loss of Nacho,” OC Zoo Manager Donald Zeigler said. “He was such a big part of the zoo family and brought joy to many visitors. The zoo staff will miss him deeply.”
The OC Zoo inside Irvine Regional Park is a haven for rescued animals of the desert southwest. Animals that come to the OC Zoo could not be released to the wild due to health or socialization issues.
Visitors bringing flowers to show their respects will be admitted to the OC Zoo free of charge through Monday, Feb. 18. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made payable to the OC Parks Foundation, 13042 Old Myford Rd., Irvine, CA 92602, note “OC Zoo fund.”