A baby Spectacled Bear born at Tierpark Berlin “bears” a striking resemblance to Paddington Bear. That’s because the much-loved children’s book character was based on this species, which is native to the Andes Mountains of South America.
Born on December 26, the male cub underwent his first medical exam on March 27. At the exam, the veterinary team confirmed his sex, implanted an ID chip, and gave the young Bear his first vaccinations. In just a few weeks, the cub – who is yet to be named – will join his mother Julia, age 20, and grandmother Puna, age 27, in the outdoor area of the Spectacled Bears’ habitat, where he is sure to win the hearts of Tierpark visitors.
Zoo and Tierpark Director Dr. Andreas Knieriem is thrilled about the new arrival. “Welcoming new baby Bears is always a joyous occasion – especially when it means we are able to make a contribution to the survival of a threatened species,” he said.
Breeding of Spectacled Bears in Europe is managed by the European Endangered Species Programme for Spectacled Bears. The program acts as a kind of matchmaking service to pair males and females based on their genetic pedigree. This strategic breeding maintains a healthy, sustainable, and genetically diverse population in zoos.
Spectacled Bears have lived at Tierpark Berlin since 1956, just one year after the park opened. This is the seventh cub born to experienced mother Julia, but only the second cub sired by Carlos, age 21. It is the first Spectacled Bear born at Tierpark Berlin since 2013. A total of 17 Spectacled Bear cubs have grown up in the Tierpark. These Bears have contributed to safeguarding the global population of the threatened species by moving to new homes in countries as far away as Japan, Russia, and Argentina.
Spectacled Bears, also known as Andean Bears, live in the Andes Mountains, from Bolivia in the south to Venezuela in the north. The Bears live in a variety of habitats, from lowland rainforests to high-altitude grasslands at 15,000 feet above sea level.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature classifies the Spectacled Bear as Vulnerable. The main threat to their survival is loss and fragmentation of habitat, caused by deforestation and conversion of land for agricultural use. Spectacled Bears that wander onto fields in search of food – either crops or domestic animals – are often killed by their human rivals. Spectacled Bears are primarily herbivorous, occasionally adding protein to their diet by eating insects, rodents, and sometimes larger animals, such as domestic sheep.