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Posted By : The Animal Facts Editorial Team

Date: January 29, 2022 9:22 pm

Woodland Park Zoo Sloth Bear Cubs

Mother of the cubs Kuhali is seen at Woodland Park Zoo. This first time mother was born at Woodland Park Zoo herself.

Photo Credit: Pam Cox/Woodland Park Zoo

The year got off to a flying start at Woodland Park Zoo with the arrival of a pair of sloth bear cubs to first time parents. Their new arrivals are a boy and a girl born on New Year's Day making them the first arrivals for 2022.

These cubs were born to first time parents mom Kushali (kuu-SHAW-lee) and dad Bhutan (boo-TAHN). This is the second litter for Bhutan and the first successful litter for female, Kushali.

Kushali herself was born at Woodland Park Zoo in 2012. The last time the zoo welcomed sloth bear cubs was in 2017.

At present the cubs are living in an off-display den with mother Kushali where they are able to bond in a quiet, comfortable environment. Animal keepers have been able to monitor them without disturbance using a camera in the den box.

“The first couple of weeks were a bit worrisome as we evaluated whether the cubs were getting enough nourishment from nursing,” said Martin Ramirez, mammal curator at Woodland Park Zoo.

“However, our round-the-clock monitoring of the cubs confirmed that their needs were being met. As the cubs turn a month old on Feb. 1, we’re very relieved and happy to report that both cubs are nursing regularly, they’re healthy and very vocal, and have full, rounded tummies, all positive signs they’re thriving.”

Woodland Park Zoo Sloth Bear Cubs

The sloth bear cubs are seen at Woodland Park Zoo in their den.

Photo Credit: Pam Cox/Woodland Park Zoo

Sloth bears are a rare species both in zoos and the wild. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) list this species as vulnerable. They are declining due to habitat loss and hunting for use in traditional medicines.

Woodland Park Zoo support the survival of the species through contributions to Wildlife SOS. They work to ensure communities can coexist with sloth bears.

In zoos accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums there are only 34 sloth bears. Every birth is an important boost in the breeding program for this species.

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“We anticipate introducing the cubs to the public outdoor exhibit in Banyan Wilds sometime in April. We first need to make some upgrades to the exhibit, which will improve the welfare for our bears and enhance the experience for our visitors,” said Ramirez.

“Artificial climbing structures will be added for the bears to climb, jump and rest. The elevated structures will also offer guests a better view of the bears, even while the bears are sleeping.”

The cubs will be nursed by their mother until a year old. They will gradually transition on to solid foods including browse, eggs and bugs.

Sloth bear cubs are born after a six month gestation period. At birth they are small and blind. Their eyes open between 25 and 35 days old. By 2 months old the cubs will begin to be carried on their back.

Learn more about Sloth Bears here – Sloth Bear Fact File | The Animal Facts

Learn more about the Woodland Park Zoo on their website – Woodland Park Zoo

Woodland Park Zoo Sloth Bear Cubs

Father of the sloth bear cubs, Bhutan is seen at Woodland Park Zoo

Photo Credit: Pam Cox/Woodland Park Zoo

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