A young captive black bear that gained local celebrity status in Nova Scotia has died suddenly, and officials have yet to determine the animal’s cause of death.

Known simply as Little Bear, the one-year-old animal died Monday after officials from Two Rivers Wildlife Park in Huntington, N.S. said he was “noticed not to be himself” on Friday.

Little Bear underwent exploratory surgery at the Sydney Animal Hospital, and park officials expected “a full and fast recovery.”

“Unfortunately, things took a turn for the worst,” the park wrote in a Facebook statement.

The cause of the bear’s death is unclear. The park says a necropsy will be performed and updates will be provided.

“He was doing great that morning and, like a flash, it all ended,” Jarrett Lewis of the Two Rivers Wildlife Park told CTV Atlantic.

Little Bear’s story began in May 2016, when the weeks-old cub arrived at the wildlife park with pneumonia after he was found alone without his mother on a Nova Scotia highway. He weighed just seven pounds at the time.

The park nursed the black bear back to health and eventually showed him off to visitors, who flocked to the park to see him.

In March, a birthday party complete with cake was held at the park to celebrate Little Bear’s one-year birthday.

The bear captured the hearts of many Maritimers, who donated $40,000 to help build a new enclosure for the animal at the park.

‘He really liked people’

Condolences poured in by the hundreds for Little Bear on the park’s Facebook page. Visitors say they’ll remember the animal’s one-of-a-kind personality.

“He was always happy and running around. He really liked people,” Stephanie Price, a wildlife park visitor.

Visitor Caleigh Morrison added that Little Bear was “just really sweet.”

“Every time you went up to the cage he was always goofing off and showing off for people and just trying to make everyone laugh,” she said.

Little Bear had a cheeky side, too. When CTV Atlantic reporter Ryan MacDonald poked his finger into the animal’s enclosure on camera, the bear bit him. (For his sake, MacDonald was fine.)

Little Bear moved into his new home last month. The enclosure now sits empty, the pool drained.

But park officials say Little Bear’s legacy will live on. They plan to name a campsite after him in his memory, and two other rescued cubs are expected to move into the enclosure built just for him.

“We hope to have a huge ceremony in celebration of his life,” Lewis said.

With files from CTV Atlantic’s Ryan MacDonald