Andean Bear Cub Update: The Cubs’ First Vet Exam

This Andean bear cub update was written by animal keeper Sara Colandrea

Just before our Andean bear cubs turned three months old in February, it was time for their beary first veterinary exam. I’m thrilled to report both cubs received a clean bill of health!

During the exam, we worked closely with our amazing veterinarians to get measurements and give the cubs their first round of vaccinations. Both cubs weighed about 10 pounds, which is right on track for cubs between two and three months old.

An Andean bear cub stands on a table, being supported up and held by a keeper wearing a beige sweater and black thick glove. A vet, wearing a navy blue jacket and blue latex gloves, measures the cub's face with a white measuring tape. They are indoors.

During the Andean bear cubs’ first exam, veterinarians measured the cubs’ length and girth.

We want to make sure all our animals are protected from any diseases they could get while outside. During this exam, the cubs received their rabies and distemper vaccines. They will need one more round of vaccinations before we can allow Brienne to take the cubs into the outdoor yards.

We had hoped to determine the sex of both cubs during this exam, but it is very difficult to assess. If they are boys, the scrotum is internal right now and there are no additional measurements to tell us which sex we are seeing. Instead, we collected a blood sample from each cub and sent it to our genetics lab. Scientists will look at each cubs’ genetic material and compare it to a fecal sample from adult male, Quito, and adult female, Billie Jean. It will probably be a couple weeks before we know the cubs’ sexes, so stay tuned!

Mother Andean bear Brienne enters into a indoor den from a doorway cut into a brick wall. One of her almost 3-month-old cubs is walking beside her. There is hay on the floor of the room they are walking into.

After the exam, Brienne and the cubs were reunited. They spent the rest of the day in their behind-the-scenes, indoor habitat.

As I mentioned in the last update, these cubs are quickly gaining mobility! They run around, get into things and still fall down quite easily. Brienne continues to be an excellent mom. She keeps an eye on her cubs and makes sure they don’t wander off too far.

Brienne will start allowing them to out of the cubbing den more and into the larger stalls they have access to as the cubs become more adventurous. The Andean Bear Cub Cam only views the den, so if you happen to tune in while the family is exploring their larger stall, check back again later. I expect this bear family to continue sleeping and playing in the den for a little while longer.

Watch beary cute moments from the Cam and keep up with keeper updates on the cubs here.