Two little Sloth Bears were born at the Tautphaus Park Zoo in Idaho Falls on November 29. Just about a week before, keepers performed an ultrasound on their pregnant female Sloth and saw a spine and got a heartbeat, so they knew there was one cub. Another ultrasound was planned for the 29th, but when they went to the den to perform it that morning, they saw proud mom Pria holding two cubs: one male, weighing just over a pound, and one female, just under a pound.
Pria has been an excellent mother. She's quite calm when she has had to separate from her cubs in order for them to get their weekly check up. For this Pria is rewarded with LOTS of peanut butter!
Meanwhile the cubs are weighed, checked for developmental milestones and have lots of photos taken to record their progress. And they have been growing beautifully. At three weeks their eyes started to open, and at four, their teeth began to come in. The babies have steadily gained approximately a pound a week, so now, at six weeks old, they weigh just about six pounds each.
There are very few Sloth Bears breeding in North American zoos, so this birth is highly significant. Mom Pria, is 4 years old and arrived from the Sunset Zoo in Kansas in April of 2011. Mick, the father, is 14 years old, and arrived from Little Rock Zoo in Arkansas in April of 2011. This pairing was recommended by the Bear TAG.
The cubs do not have names yet, but the zoo plans to have a local naming contest.
See more photos of the bears after the fold: