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Seeing Double: Andean Bear Cubs Born at Smithsonian National Zoo

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The Smithsonian National Zoo is celebrating the birth of two Andean Bear cubs born overnight on December 13 to 6-year-old Mom, Billie Jean. The first cub was born around 12:01 a.m. and the second at 2:02 a.m. These two cubs were sired by Nikki, who passed away in August.

This species has a high mortality rate, with first-year mortality at 41 percent for males and 44 percent for females. The Andean Bear population in human care has experienced a lull in the past six years and these cubs are the only surviving Andean cubs in a North American Zoo since Billie Jean’s first cubs, Bernardo and Chaska, were born in 2010.

Animal Care Sciences staff will monitor the cubs on the Andean Bear Cam, but will leave Billie Jean to nurture and bond with her cubs without interference. It will be at least two months before keepers and veterinarians can determine the cubs’ sex.

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Photo Credit: Smithsonian’s National Zoo

The public can also view Billie Jean and the cubs on the live camera on the Zoo’s website or mobile app. For now the Zoo will be collecting screenshots in a Flickr album and is asking the public to contribute images and video to a separate Flickr album. The Zoo will also post updates on Facebook and Twitter.