Woodland Park Zoo welcomed yet another infant before Baby New Year toddled in to change the date to 2013. This time, the bouncing baby was a sloth bear, an endangered species that numbers less than 10,000 individuals in the wild and only about 50 individuals in North American zoos.
The little cub was born to 7-year-old female Tasha and 16-year-old male Randy on December 18, 2012. Like all sloth-bear cubs, it's miniature--probably weighing at about 10.5 to 17.5 ounces.
The cub is the first for Tasha, but the zoo's blog reports that she has thus far proven to be a good mom. She piled up hay in her den for the new cub to nestle in with her and to date the cub is nursing well.
Papa bear Randy is kept in a separate den. In the wild, male sloth bears do not participate in the care of young.
Keepers are watching over Tasha and her cub via web cam so as to avoid disturbing them during the bonding process.
By now, the cub most likely has opened its eyes and is taking its first bleary look at the world around it. A sloth bear cub typically opens its eyes at 3 weeks of age. By 4 weeks, it's able to walk--though when it's 2 months old, it can start hitching a ride on Mom's back.
According to the zoo's blog, the breeding of Tasha and Randy was advised by the sloth bear Species Survival Plan (SSP). A species survival plan is designed to promote genetic diversity in captive animal populations in North American zoos.
Currently the sloth bears are off exhibit, but in 2014 the bears will move into new digs in the new Asian Tropical Forest. The groundbreaking for this new exhibit took place in September 2012. Phase One of the project is expected to open in May 2013 with the debut of Asian small-clawed otters as well as a nature-play area for children.
The sloth-bear cub joins a roster of 2012 zoo babies at Woodland Park Zoo that includes snow leopard cubs, lion cubs, flamingo chicks, turaco chicks, tawny frogmouth chicks, penguin chicks, and wallaroo and wallaby joeys.