News Release
Contact: Sondra Katzen, Public Relations, 708.688.8351,
September 14, 2022
NOTE: Scroll down to end of press release to download photos.

Chicago Zoological Society Mourns Loss of 27-year-old Brown Bear

Brookfield, Ill. — The Chicago Zoological Society (CZS), which manages Brookfield Zoo, is deeply saddened to announce the loss of Jim, a 27-year-old male brown bear. Yesterday, September 13, animal care and veterinary staff made the difficult decision to euthanize the geriatric bear due to his declining health associated with his very advanced age. 

Staff had been closely managing his comfort and care, but in recent months, Jim’s mobility had declined significantly due to severe arthritis. Veterinary and animal care staff made careful adjustments to his medications to ensure Jim’s comfort. However, his arthritis had progressed to the point that staff could no longer ensure his comfort and quality of life. Just shy of his 28th birthday, Jim significantly exceeded the median life expectancy for his species.

“As an easy-going gentle giant, Jim was definitely was one of the staff’s favorites,” said Mark Wanner, curator of mammals for CZS. “Jim was very eager to try new food items and seemed to thoroughly enjoy his enrichment. Additionally, he voluntarily participated in his own health care during husbandry training sessions with animal care staff. This has been an incredibly difficult time for those who cared for him and he will be greatly missed.”

For nearly three decades, millions of guests have seen Jim and his brother Axhi, first at the old Bear Grottos, when they arrived at Brookfield Zoo in 1995, and for the past 12 years, at Great Bear Wilderness. Through Jim, zoogoers have had the opportunity to learn about brown bears and conservation efforts being done to protect this iconic North American species. At special zoo chats held during past and present special events, including Teddy Bear Picnic, Bear Awareness Weekend, and Boo! at the Zoo, as well as “Bringing the Zoo to You” Facebook Live chats, Jim, along with his brother, was a favorite among guests. Additionally, Jim was frequently featured in photos and videos enjoying a variety of unique enrichment items, the most recent being ice blocks, sporting the Chicago Bears team’s colors of blue and orange, in celebration of the official start of the football season.

Jim and his brother Axhi arrived at Brookfield Zoo in 1995 when they were just 6 months old. The two orphaned cubs were rescued from Admiralty Island in southeastern Alaska, two weeks after their mother was killed by a hunter near a landfill located on the outskirts of Angoon, a small fishing village. Their rescue was a collaborative effort with CZS, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, and residents on the island.

At the time of their rescue, the cubs were named by the Tlingit (pronounced klink-et) Native Americans of Admiralty, who also aided in the effort to save the bears. Jim’s full name was Kootznoowoo-Jim—Kootznoowoo is the Indian word for Admiralty Island, which means “fortress of the bear.” And Jim, was the name of an animal care staff member, who at the time assisted in the cubs’ rescue and worked in Brookfield Zoo’s Mammal Department.

#      #      #
Photo Captions (credit CZS-Brookfield Zoo)
0100, 0159, 0690: Jim, a 27-year-old brown bear at Brookfield Zoo, was euthanized on September 13 due to his declining health associated with his very advanced age. 
About the Chicago Zoological Society
The mission of the Chicago Zoological Society is to inspire conservation leadership by engaging people and communities with wildlife and nature. The Chicago Zoological Society is a private nonprofit organization that operates Brookfield Zoo on land owned by the Forest Preserves of Cook County. The Society is known throughout the world for its international role in animal population management and wildlife conservation. Its Center for the Science of Animal Care and Welfare is at the forefront of animal care that strives to discover and implement innovative approaches to zoo animal management. Brookfield Zoo is the first zoo in the world to be awarded the Humane Certified™ certification mark for the care and welfare of its animals, meeting American Humane Association’s rigorous certification standards. The zoo is located at 8400 31st Street in Brookfield, Illinois, between the Stevenson (I-55) and Eisenhower (I-290) expressways and also is accessible via the Tri-State Tollway (I-294), Metra commuter line, and CTA and PACE bus service. For further information, visit


Sondra Katzen
Director of Public Relations
Office: 708-688-8351
Cell Phone: 708-903-2071


Center for the Science of Animal Care and Welfare

Read about our innovative practices in animal welfare to ensure the ultimate care of our individual animals.


Visit Brookfield Zoo

Create extraordinary connections with animals and nature!

Animal Welfare

You Can Help!

Become our partner in caring for animals and in connecting people with wildlife and nature.