Andean Bear Cubs: It's a Girl and a Boy! They Will Be on Exhibit Soon
The National Zoo's Andean bear cubs, born in January 2010, went outside with their mother for the very first time on April 30. They played a lot, explored the yard, climbed and fell off walls, and returned indoors after an hour and a half—keepers called their mother, Billie Jean, and they eventually followed her. They also saw their father (in the adjacent yard) for the first time. As with other bears, Andean bear fathers do not play a role in rearing offspring. As the cubs—one female, one male—become more familiar with the yard in the coming weeks, animal care staff will closely observe them before the bears make their public debut later this spring.
The cubs are extremely playful and not at all shy. They like chasing each other and wrestling with each other, and occasionally they try wrestling with their mother—they always lose. It seems that they love showing off for the keepers.
The cubs are still nursing, but are also eating small amounts of their mother's food. Staff say she is doing a phenomenal job of raising them and is very laid back. She sits and watches as her cubs play right in front of the keepers.
Their facial markings are quite distinct, so the cubs can be easily distinguished. The male has much more pronounced "eyebrows" or spectacles—the area around his eyes has a lot more light-colored hair than his sister's face has. The photo in the upper left corner is of the female, the first photo in the slideshow is of the male.