Ooo, la la! Meet Bouba!
The Wildlife Conservation Society's (WCS) Queen's Zoo in Flushing, NY has a new resident today. His name is Bouba and he is an Andean bear (Tremarctos ornatus) most commonly found in the Andes Mountains of Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru western Bolivia and northwestern Argentina.
Bouba is a two-year old male from France who has come to join long time Queen Zoo resident, Spangles, a 21 year old female Andean Bear. Bouba weighs approximately 220 pounds and could weigh up to 350 pounds as an adult.
"Bouba's energy will make him a star," said Scott Silver, Animal Curator and Zoo Director. "He represents an important addition to the Andean bear breeding program among zoos in the United States."
The Andean bear is also known as the spectacled bear because some individuals have white markings around their eyes that resemble eyeglasses. With strong legs and claws for mountain climbing, Andean bears are built for the mountain life. They subsist in mountainous cloud forests 600 to 14,000 feet above sea level. They spend much of their time in nests they build in trees, feeding, resting, and sleeping. While they are omnivores, they also eat lots of plants and are known to wait patiently up in trees for fruit to ripen. Once beyond childhood (about 8 months), they usually travel alone, but will sometimes gather at a particularly good feeding site. They do not hibernate because food is available to them year-round.
Their populations in the wild are declining due to habitat loss and hunting. The species is classified as "Vulnerable" by the International Union of Conservation of Nature (IUCN) because of their fur and meat as well as their habitat loss. With as few as 2,400 remaining in the wild, Andean bears are one of the most endangered bear species in the world.
WCS conservationist biologist Isaac Goldstein has studied these bears in the Andes Mountains for more than 20 years. Goldstein and his colleagues are working with local conservation organizations in Ecuador and Bolivia to census the population, radio-track their activities, determine the size of their home ranges and protect their homes. The Queens Zoo's bears are part of a Species Survival Plan, a cooperative breeding program that helps to maintain healthy populations of the animals in zoos throughout the U.S.
Read more at Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS).
Andean Bear via Thoiry Zoo, France.