Photos of the eight-week-old Andean bear cubs at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo were released today, Thursday, Feb. 21. Andean bears, also known as spectacled bears, are listed as vulnerable on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species, and it is estimated that there are only 2,000 left in their natural habitat.
The cubs received a clean bill of health from the Zoo’s veterinarians. The veterinary team performed a complete physical exam on Feb. 20 and they also received the first in a series of routine vaccines. The cubs appear to be male and female, although it is difficult to determine the sex at their young age. The larger cub weighs 10.1 pounds; the smaller weighs 9.2 pounds.
The cubs were born Dec. 14 and spent the past two months bonding with their mother, Billie Jean, in a den near the American Trail exhibit. Animal care staff and the public have had the opportunity to watch Billie Jean give birth, nurture her cubs and watch them play and grow via the live Andean Bear Cub Cam on the Zoo’s website. The family’s public debut will take place later this spring.