Aging bear at center of court fight is euthanized in Ohio

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MEDINA, Ohio (AP) — A toothless, 41-year-old bear in the middle of a permit dispute between his owners and the state was euthanized after finishing a last meal that included a cream-filled doughnut.

The black bear named Archie had been in failing health for months and wasn't expected to live through hibernation, said owners Jeffrey and Debra Gillium.

He was euthanized by a veterinarian Friday after the Gilliums gave him a big breakfast of dog food mixed with tapioca pudding and a doughnut.

"He usually doesn't get stuff like that, but today was a special day and he loves his sweets," Debra Gillium told the Medina Gazette ( ). "He licked the tapioca off my fingers."

The Gilliums had fought to keep Archie despite failing to get a permit when Ohio tightened rules for keeping dangerous animals.

They argued that the bear was old and unlikely to escape his fenced enclosure near Lodi, roughly 40 miles southwest of Cleveland. They said that moving or tranquilizing him could threaten his life and that denying their permit wouldn't serve the public interest.

But the Ohio Department of Agriculture said it couldn't grant a permit because the application was submitted long after the deadline.

The Gilliums said they had cared for the bear since 1981 and had proper permits and licenses until the law changed and their last permit expired in 2013. They argued that they weren't adequately notified about the changes when the Department of Agriculture took over enforcement on such matters and they believed they were grandfathered into the new permit system.

Debra Gillium said she took steps to meet the new requirements, including applying for a permit and trying to have Archie tagged by microchip. The department said the Gilliums simply hadn't complied with current law.

The restrictions on ownership of dangerous and exotic animals were enacted after a Zanesville-area man released dozens of exotic animals, including African lions and Bengal tigers, at his property before killing himself in 2011.

A judge last May dismissed a civil case by the couple.

"It's been hard on us physically," Debra Gillium told The Gazette. "We got too attached to Archie. I can say that I never regretted one day of taking care of him 'cause he was just so sweet and loving."

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