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Andean Bear Cubs Born at Smithsonian’s Nationwide Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute

After an eight-year hiatus, the Smithsonian’s Nationwide Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute (NZCBI) in Washington, D.C., is celebrating the start of two Andean bears. The cubs have been born Nov. 15 to first-time mother and father, 3-year-old mom Brienne and 9-year-old father Quito. The primary cub was born round 4 p.m. and the second round 8:30 p.m. Animal care workers is intently monitoring the mom and cubs by way of the Andean Bear Cub Cam on the Zoo’s web site, permitting Brienne to take care of her offspring with out interference. Digital guests also can observe the Andean bear household on this short-term platform till the cubs go away the den.


Keepers report that Brienne has been attentively grooming her cubs and inspiring them to nurse. Each are lively and vocal, and workers is cautiously optimistic that they are going to thrive. These cubs are the fourth litter born on the Zoo since 2010. It will likely be two-to-three months earlier than keepers and veterinarians carry out an examination and decide the cubs’ sexes. They may make their public debut in early spring, after they flip 3 months outdated. Keepers are excited to be taught if the cubs’ personalities shall be curious and daring like their mom, quiet and reserved like their father or uniquely their very own. The Zoo will proceed to offer updates on the Andean bear household by way of FbTwitter and Instagram.

“For a brand new couple like Brienne and Quito, it’s nice to see all the administration, science and time that we now have put into this species culminate in such a good way,” stated Sara Colandrea, NZCBI animal keeper and North American Andean bear studbook keeper and Species Survival Plan (SSP) coordinator. “These cubs are extraordinarily essential to the SSP demographically and genetically since Quito’s genes are new to the North American inhabitants. We’re trying ahead to watching Brienne navigate motherhood and, in fact, all the lovable antics we’re sure to see from little bear cubs!”


Because the studbook keeper and SSP coordinator, Colandrea retains observe of all of the Andean bears within the North American SSP—particulars about the place they stay, how they’re associated and details about their personalities, temperament and well being. Utilizing that data, she makes suggestions about which bears ought to breed to make sure zoo populations are as genetically various as doable. Along with serving to facilitate motion between zoos, Colandrea serves as the purpose particular person for any facility that wants details about exhibiting, breeding or cub rearing these bears.

There are just below 40 Andean bears within the Affiliation of Zoos and Aquariums’ SSP. Brienne arrived at NZCBI in September 2020 from the Queens Zoo in New York, and Quito arrived in November 2017 from Zoo Duisburg in Germany.


Brienne and Quito bred in late March and early April. Nevertheless, it’s tough to pinpoint precisely when Brienne turned pregnant as a result of copy on this species includes delayed implantation. The blastocyst (fertilized egg) doesn’t connect to the uterine wall till a number of months after breeding happens. Andean bear gestation is about 60 days from when the blastocyst attaches. Animal care workers suspected that if Brienne had a blastocyst from her spring breeding, then it might doubtless connect in autumn. Keepers educated Brienne to voluntarily take part in ultrasounds, and veterinarians started taking photographs in August to substantiate being pregnant as early as doable. In late October, ultrasound photographs detected skeletal improvement and heartbeats, confirming the presence of two cubs.

Nearly all of what scientists find out about Andean bears comes from zoos like NZCBI that examine Andean bear conduct, well being and copy. Keepers and scientists are working intently collectively to pinpoint precisely when a feminine bear is in estrus and correlate that to particular behaviors to allow them to put bears collectively for breeding on the optimum time. Analysis akin to this might assist improve the speed of profitable conception and lead to extra cub births. NZCBI animal care workers is sharing the knowledge gathered from this litter with the Affiliation of Zoos and Aquariums for the advantage of different establishments that exhibit and need to breed this species.

Andean bears are listed as weak on the Worldwide Union for Conservation of Nature’s Pink Listing of Threatened Species, and it’s estimated that there are solely 2,000 left within the wild. They’re South America’s solely bear species, and as their title suggests, they stay within the Andes mountain vary from western Venezuela south to Bolivia, with sightings reported from japanese Panama and excessive northern Argentina.

Word: Reporters will be unable to come back to the Zoo for images or video. Brienne will keep inside together with her cubs, and if the cubs are wholesome and thrive, all three will exit within the yard in early spring 2023.



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