National Zoo’s Andean bear cubs seem to already have the moves like jagger and this week they also got their names. The 19 week old brothers, born on November 10 and 11 2014, were named Mayni (MY-nee) and Muniri (moo-NEE-ree) this week following a poll on the zoo’s website.
Mayni means “unique” in the Aymara language which is spoken in the Andes. Muniri means “loving” in the Quechua language which is spoken across South America.
The naming competition was conducted in collaboration with Univision’s ¡Despierta America!. Names were requested which would reflect the Andes region where these bears are naturally found. It was important that the bears receive names as they are beginning training sessions with their keepers. During this process they are taught behaviours which allow animal care staff to evaluate their health.
The cubs are preparing for their public debut on March 28. They have had access to their outside yard since March so they could begin getting used to the smells, trees, rocks and enrichment items found in the outside world.
Andean bears are good climbers and as you can see below the cubs got straight into trying out their skills. Keepers have been keeping them safe by laying down extra hay around the yard.
Andean bears are rare in zoos and in the wild. The International Union for Conservation of Nature lists them as vulnerable to extinction with only 20,000 left in the wild. In captivity only five litters have survive in North America over the past decade. Three litters have been born at the Smithsonian National Zoo since 2010.
They are the only bear species found in South America making their home in the Andes. Currently they are under threat due to habitat destruction.
Photo Credits: Smithsonian National Zoo/ Connor Mallon