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Rare ‘spectacled’ bear cub born at San Diego Zoo

Alba, an Andean bear, gave birth to a cub at the San Diego Zoo last week.
(Ken Bohn/San Diego Zoo )

The Andean bear cub was born last week

A rare Andean bear cub was born at the San Diego Zoo on Jan. 8, the zoo reported Wednesday.

The 7-day-old cub, whose sex is yet to be determined and is unnamed, was born to mother Alba and father Turbo — both residents of the zoo.

Andean bears are the only native bear species to South America and are typically found in the Andes Mountains from Venezuela to Bolivia. They are listed as a vulnerable species on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s list of threatened species, primarily because of habitat loss. They are sometimes called “spectacled bears” because of rings of white or light fur around their eyes.

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San Diego Zoo has a long history with Andean bears, with the first appearing in 1938. Nine cubs have been born at the zoo, but this is the first since 1993.

The mortality rate for Andean bear cubs is high, but zoo officials say they are optimistic about the survival of the young cub.

“We are overjoyed about the birth of Alba’s first cub,” said Chris Hamlin, an animal care manager at San Diego Zoo, in a press release. “Alba is showing all the appropriate behaviors of a good mother, being very attentive to her newborn. We are so impressed with how well she is handling motherhood.”

Alba and her cub are being monitored by staff by video camera so the bears are not interrupted. The zoo said the birth will allow researchers to learn about mother and cub interaction, as well as cub development. Very little is know about Andean bears in their native habitat. They are known to avoid humans, the zoo said.

San Diego Zoo has a long history with Andean bears, with the first appearing in 1938. Nine cubs have been born at the zoo, but this is the first since 1993. If the cub survives, visitors should be able to see it in a few months.


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