Image: © Smithsonian's National Zoo

Bear Cubs Big Day Out at the Smithsonian's National Zoo


The Animal Facts Editorial Team


April 3, 2023 11:30 pm


Smithsonian's National Zoo, Washington DC, The United States

A pair of Andean bear cubs, Ian and Sean born in November 2022 at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute (NZCBI) in Washington, D.C have made their debut. Staff have been working with the brothers to prepare them for their exhibit debut.

Ian and Sean were born on November 15 2022 to mother Brienne and father Quito. The pair will spend the next year with mother Brienne growing and learning the skills they need to be adult bears.

The births of Ian and Sean are significant for the population of Andean bears in managed care; they are the fourth litter of cubs born at NZCBI since 2010. 

“For vulnerable animals like Andean bears, an Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Species Survival Plan (SSP) is a critical program to safely maintaining ex situ populations,” said Sara Colandrea, NZCBI animal keeper and North American Andean bear studbook keeper and SSP coordinator. “We work with other AZA-accredited zoos across the world to coordinate breeding that ensures genetic diversity for the long-term survival of the species. Once grown, if Ian and Sean are selected as studs, they provide more genetic diversity within the U.S. population.” 

Andean bears are the only species of bear found in South America. They are listed as vulnerable on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species. Their population has fallen to just 20,000 due to habitat loss and wildlife trafficking. Ian and Sean serve as ambassadors for their wild counterparts helping to bring awareness to these threats.

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Spectacled bear

More on the Andean Bear!

With a set of spectacle like markings ringing their eyes you won't be surprised to learn that an alternative name for this species is spectacled bear. Learn more about them in our fact file.

Our Favourite Andean Bear Fact!

The birthing season for the Andean bear is timed to coincide with the peak fruiting season within their range allowing them to easily find food to supply their cubs.

Image: © Smithsonian's National Zoo

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