For Release: April 21, 2006
John Gibbons (202) 633-3083
Peper Long (202) 633-3082
It's Another Male Bear Cub at the National Zoo
Yesterday morning, staff at the Smithsonian's National Zoo got their first look at the sloth bear cub during a quick veterinary check that lasted 11 minutes.
The cub, born Jan. 9 of this year, is male, and weighs just more than 11 pounds. According to National Zoo Veterinarian Carlos Sanchez, who gave the cub a dewormer and a rabies vaccination, the cub appears strong and healthy.
The exam took place after numerous and careful attempts by animal-care staff to separate the cub and its very protective mother, 11-year-old Hana. Staff continue to monitor Hana and her cub via a camera mounted in their den.
This is the third cub for Hana; she gave birth to two cubs in December 2004, but both cubs died within four days of being born. At birth, sloth bear cubs are very small, fragile and dependent on maternal care. They are known to stay in their dens until they are a few months old, and will stay with their mother for two or three years. Female bears are known to carry their young on their backs with the cubs holding on to the mother's long shaggy fur.
Hana and her cub will go on exhibit in a few weeks. The cub's father, 24-year-old Merlin, may still be seen at the Zoo's sloth bear exhibit located at the bottom of the Zoo's Beaver Valley.
When the new Asia Trail opens at the National Zoo this fall, sloth bears will be the very first animal Zoo visitors see when entering the main gates on Connecticut Avenue. They are one of seven species to be exhibited on the Zoo's Asia Trail. The other six species are clouded leopards, Asian small-clawed otters, red pandas, giant pandas, Japanese giant salamanders, and fishing cats.
Sloth bears are native to India and Sri Lanka, but there is no solid estimate of how many remain in the wild. Sloth bears usually mate in early summer and females give birth six to seven months later. They are listed as "vulnerable" by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources.
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Note to editors: Video of the cub and mom in their den and photos of the cub's parents are available from the Zoo's Office of Public Affairs. In the video, Hana and her cub are in their den, which, just like in the wild, is a dark and secure environment.