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Movie star bear dies after stepping on tiny piece of metal in Alberta park


INNISFAIL, Alta. - A piece of metal smaller than a paper clip has ultimately led to the death of a "gentle giant" bear known for his roles in feature films, and for kissing visitors following his retirement.
Ali Oop died last Thursday at the age of 27 at the central Alberta wildlife park where he lived.
Oop, as he was affectionately called, couldn't fight an infection that developed in his foot after the piece of metal was removed a month ago, said Doug Bos, who owns the Discovery Wildlife Park in Innisfail.
"It's just unfortunate that such a little problem brought down such a big bear," said Bos. "Because he was so old, he wasn't able to fight the infection."
Oop was the equivalent of 80 in human years, he said.
Oop's screen credits include "Dr. Dolittle 2," "Wild America," "The Last Trapper," "Trueheart" and a number of television commercials.
Bos said the entire zoo is in mourning, though none more than Ruth Labarge, who hand-raised and trained the Kodiak bear.
"She can't quit crying," Bos said. "Everything has been so quick and sudden and it's hard to get your mind around."
Oop's calm disposition made him well-suited to a film career, said Bos.
"He was just a gentle giant," he said.
After he stopped doing movies in 2004, Oop continued to be a favourite at the park, which is about 115 kilometres north of Calgary, said Bos.
The bear was given antibiotics to treat the infection from the cut, but he still couldn't heal, said Bos.
Labarge took him to see veterinarians at the Calgary Zoo last Thursday, but he died the same day.

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