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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 beginning of two Andean bears. The cubs have been born Nov. 15 to first-time dad and mom, 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 employees 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 may observe the Andean bear household on this non permanent platform till the cubs depart the den.


    Keepers report that Brienne has been attentively grooming her cubs and inspiring them to nurse. Each are lively and vocal, and employees is cautiously optimistic that they’ll 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 They are going to make their public debut in early spring, after they flip 3 months outdated. Keepers are excited to be taught if the cubs’ personalities will likely 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 means 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’ve got put into this species culminate in such an effective way,” mentioned Sara Colandrea, NZCBI animal keeper and North American Andean bear studbook keeper and Species Survival Plan (SSP) coordinator. “These cubs are extraordinarily vital to the SSP demographically and genetically since Quito’s genes are new to the North American inhabitants. We’re wanting 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 dwell, how they’re associated and details about their personalities, temperament and well being. Utilizing that info, she makes suggestions about which bears ought to breed to make sure zoo populations are as genetically numerous as potential. 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 grew to become pregnant as a result of replica on this species entails 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 employees suspected that if Brienne had a blastocyst from her spring breeding, then it could possible connect in autumn. Keepers skilled Brienne to voluntarily take part in ultrasounds, and veterinarians started taking photos in August to verify being pregnant as early as potential. In late October, ultrasound photos detected skeletal growth 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 habits, well being and replica. 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 enhance the speed of profitable conception and end in extra cub births. NZCBI animal care employees is sharing the data 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 susceptible 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 identify suggests, they dwell within the Andes mountain vary from western Venezuela south to Bolivia, with sightings reported from japanese Panama and excessive northern Argentina.

    Be aware: Reporters won’t be able to return to the Zoo for photographs 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.