For Release: May 22, 2006
John Gibbons (202) 633-3083
Peper Long (202) 633-3082
National Zoo’s Sloth Bear Cub Goes on Exhibit
The newest bear cub at Smithsonian’s National
Zoo will greet visitors for the first time tomorrow
morning, May 23. The 4 1/2-month-old male sloth
bear, which is yet unnamed, has spent most of his time
in an indoor den, but is now old enough to begin exploring
his outdoor exhibit under the watchful eye of his mother
Since the cub’s birth on Jan. 9, National Zoo staff monitored both mother and cub via a camera mounted in their den. During the past two weeks, however, Zoo staff has let the cub out into the exhibit periodically to become acclimated with the outdoor yard and the exhibit’s dry moat. When he is not investigating every inch of the yard, he is playing with his mother or climbing up and riding on her back—behavior unique to sloth bears. He is rambunctious—climbing, chewing, and generally keeping his mother very busy. The cub’s father, “Merlin,” can often be seen out in the adjacent bear yard. As in the wild, the male bear has no role in the cub’s upbringing.
The cub will not be the only one exploring new exhibit yards for long, however. This fall, all three sloth bears will move to a new exhibit on Asia Trail, and will be the first species visitors see upon entering the Zoo’s main gates on Connecticut Avenue. Currently, the Zoo’s sloth bear exhibit—one of the Zoo’s oldest exhibit spaces—is located at the bottom of the Zoo’s Beaver Valley area.
Sloth bears are one of seven species to be exhibited on the Zoo's Asia Trail, which will also include clouded leopards, Asian small-clawed otters and giant pandas. Asia Trail is scheduled to open in September.
This is the third cub for Hana; she gave birth to two cubs in Dec. 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.
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Note to editors: The sloth bear cub will be let into
the public exhibit at 8 a.m. on Tuesday, May 23.
Please contact the National Zoo’s office of public
affairs if you plan to cover the cub’s debut.
Also, photos of the cub are available through the National
Zoo’s office of public affairs.