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Andean Bear Cubs Gear Up for Public Debut
Public Can Weigh in on Naming the New Bears
The two Andean bear cubs, Tremarctos ornatus (also known as the spectacled bear), that were born at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo in mid-January are getting ready for two big events: receiving their names May 19 and making their public debut May 22.
After months of seclusion in their indoor den with mother Billie Jean, the two curious cubs have slowly ventured farther into their indoor enclosure, graduated to a few trips outdoors to explore their yards and are gearing up to make their public debut. However, they are in need of fitting names, and the Zoo is asking the public to weigh in on the selection. Though both cubs are similar in size and coloring, their facial markings are quite distinct, so they can be easily distinguished. The male has much more pronounced “eyebrows” or spectacles—he has a lot more light-colored hair in the area around his eyes than does his sister.
“The cubs are extremely playful and not at all shy,” said acting Andean bear curator Craig Saffoe. “They seem to like showing off for the keepers. They like to wrestle with each other, or their mother—but they never win that match. They are incredibly endearing to watch; I think visitors will be captivated with them.”
Starting today, the public can vote online for one of four names (each) that the Andean bear keepers, volunteers and the embassies of Peru and Venezuela (countries in which Andean bears are found) have provided for these cubs. Polls will remain open until noon Monday, May 17. The winning names will be announced via a special media event May 19 at the Andean Bear exhibit with Dennis Kelly, the National Zoo’s director, and representatives of the embassies of Peru and Venezuela. In addition, the names will be announced via Facebook and Twitter.
Individuals who retweet the Zoo’s call for votes on Twitter will be entered in a drawing for a tour of the Zoo’s Andean Bear exhibit and a chance to meet their keepers. To vote, the public may visit the poll page: http://nationalzoo.si.edu/Animals/Amazonia/Exhibit/
More photos available on the National Zoo’s Flickr site: