Our sloth bear Hana gave birth to one cub on December 19, 2012.
In a poll conducted on the Zoo’s Facebook page, 830 fans elected to name the cub Hank, a moniker that combines the cubs’ parents’ names, Hana and Francois. “Hank” proved to be more popular than “Ravi” or “Bandar,” which received 615 and 219 votes, respectively. It’s important for Hank to know his name now that keepers have started training sessions. They’ve spent the last few weeks teaching him behaviors that will help animal care staff evaluate his health. The family’s public debut will take place later this summer.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature lists sloth bears as vulnerable because populations in their native Bhutan, India, Nepal and Sri Lanka are decreasing due to loss of habitat and poaching.
Our 15 week-old sloth bear cub had a check up yesterday, and he received a clean bill of health! Veterinarians examined his eyes, mouth and nose; they listened to his heart and lungs; and they checked his limbs and feet. He also received his first vaccinations.
As a treat for cooperating for the exam he received some honey water in a bottle from one of his keepers.
Photo: Tallie Wiles, Smithsonian's National Zoo.
Asia Trail curator and keeper staff have determined the sex of our 3-month-old sloth bear cub: it’s a boy! Keepers report that the cub is quite daring and adventurous; he will balance himself atop wobbly enrichment toys (such as logs and boomer balls) and has recently taken to climbing the mesh in his enclosure. However, Hana is always nearby to carry him down to ground level if he climbs too high for her liking.
We’re so glad you’re enjoying watching our bear cub cams, both Andean and sloth! We’re thrilled to be able to share this experience with you. Very few people have ever gotten to observe maternal behavior and cub development in these early weeks and months in the den, so this experience is as exciting for us as it is for you. We hope you’ve been able to follow along on your computer, but also on your mobile devices using our app. And we so appreciate those of you who have snapped and shared screenshots with us!
As you’ve probably noticed, as all three cubs are getting larger, they’re getting more mobile. Billie Jean routinely takes her cubs out of the den for small excursions, and all three cubs seem to be trying out their legs. Before long, the cubs will start to explore beyond their den on their own. Which means we’ll be trying to get photos of them, and if we are successful then we will share them with you! Unfortunately, it also means they won’t be as consistently visible on the cams as they have been.
Several of you have asked about vet exams. The vet exams all depend on the mother bears. Billie Jean and Hana each have to feel comfortable being separated from their cubs for short times in order for animal care staff to conduct the cub exams. This is even more difficult in Hana’s case, as sloth bears cubs ride on their mothers’ backs. When we are able to conduct the exams, you can be sure we’ll keep you updated and share all the adorable photos.
We also hope that, when the cubs begin to go outside this spring, you’ll be able to come to the Zoo and see them in person!
It’s clear from watching the Sloth Bear Cam that this little cub has a lot of personality—just like Hana! It’s not unusual to see the two playing: she will roll on her back and hug the cub, paw at him/her, and exhibit a “play face” (her mouth is open and her lower lip is loose rather than taut).
At 7 weeks old, the cub is still pretty uncoordinated. But that doesn’t stop him/her from playfully nipping at Hana’s fur, neck, and face. The cub’s not on the move quite yet, but it’s getting the hang of using its back legs to propel itself forward. In a few weeks, the cub should be climbing aboard mom’s back.
Hana and the cub continue to do well! Keepers are seeing the cub sit up more but it still hasn’t tried to climb onto Hana’s back. Hana leaves the den more frequently and eats small snacks on a daily basis, but she still spends the majority of her time in the den with the cub. We occasionally see Hana sitting next to the cub or going into the tunnel connecting the den to her outer enclosure, coming back to nuzzle the cub briefly, and then repeating. We wonder if she’s teaching that it’s okay when mom leaves because she’ll always come back? The cub is certainly becoming calmer when she leaves the den and not screaming at the top of its lungs like it did during those first few weeks!
Time flies: Our sloth bear cub is one month old today! Hana continues to be very attentive to him or her, and keepers are still monitoring the pair closely through their closed-circuit cam. Because the cub’s dark hair is growing quickly, it’s getting tougher to spot. (If it turns just so, the white patch of fur on its chest gives its location away!)
Even if keepers can’t always see the cub nursing, they can hear that distinctive suckling sound as well as some typical squeaks and squawks. On occasion, they spot Hana and cub pawing at each other as though they are playing! Exercising those limbs is important, and the cub is almost on the go! It can push itself up using it’s front legs, but it has not yet mastered using its back legs. It will be another few weeks before it’s fully crawling and climbing aboard mom’s back.
Forget two turtle doves—we’ve got two bearing bears! Our 18-year-old sloth bear Hana gave birth to a single cub around 8:30 a.m. on December 19, 2012—which happens to be her birthday, too! Animal care staff are keeping a close watch on the cub through a closed-circuit TV camera, and it appears both bears are doing great. Mom is very attentive, and the cub has successfully nursed. If the cub thrives, it will be a few months before it goes on exhibit. On warm winter days, Zoo visitors can watch the cub’s father, Francois, sunning himself on Asia Trail.