Andean Bear Cubs Have First Exam
The two Andean bears born at the National Zoo in mid-January had their first vet exam on March 24. The staff wanted to give Billie Jean, a first-time mother, ample time to bond with her cubs before interacting with them.
In just about three minutes, the vet and keeper staff visually examined the cubs, vaccinated them, determined that the bears are healthy, and were even able to insert a microchip into one of them. They also shaved a spot on each bear (on one's shoulder, on the other's hip) so they can be quickly identified. When the cubs were returned to the den, and Billie Jean was let back in with them, she went straight to the nest and groomed them calmly.
Confirming the sex of young bears is notoriously difficult; the staff hope they will learn the bears' sex at the second exam, which will occur about four weeks after the first exam. And if all continues to go well, the cubs will hopefully make their public debut in late spring!