A black bear that's a been a big part of the wildlife display at Fontana Park near Hazleton for nearly 15 years has died.

Buchanan County Environmental Conservation officials said the black bear -- a female known as Bear-Bear -- died from complications of old age on Monday (Dec. 17, 2018). She was 26.

Bear-Bear was brought to Fontana Park as a 10-year-old in 2003. She was the second of two black bears that were once part of the wildlife display. Her death is a big loss for the nature center, which has housed a black bear for about 35 years.

Records show the first bear -- named Tana (short for Fontana) -- arrived at Fontana Park as a 5-month-old cub in 1983. She died in August 2010 at age 27, also from problems associated with old age.

Both bears were a central part in the park's efforts to educate visitors about native animals that have disappeared. The wildlife area is home to native Iowa wildlife that cannot survive in the wild.

According to conservation officials, the bears were originally kept as pets by private individuals. They said it's unlikely there will be a future need to house a bear at Fontana Park, because Iowa law now prohibits people keeping the large animals as pets.

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