Cub Q&A: Muniri and Mayni Learn Their Names

bear cub walks across horizontal branch to other tree in its enclosure
Curious about Andean bear cubs Muniri and Mayni? Curator Craig Saffoe shares the scoop on the brothers in the latest Q&A. Check them out on exhibit every day at 10 a.m. (weather permitting).

How do Muniri and Mayni's personalities differ?

Muniri is the daredevil. He's more adventurous than Mayni and tends to be the first cub to test new things like natural enrichment (rocks, logs, sticks, among others) in the yard. He also doesn't seem to mind being on his own. Mayni, on the other hand, tends to hang close to mom Billie Jean and is cautious when it comes to investigating new things. At 5 months, the cubs are still relatively young. We expect both to become more confident as they grow and develop.

What behaviors can visitors expect to see?

These cubs have seemingly endless energy! Visitors can expect to see them playing with one another and with mom quite a bit—activities like wrestling and chasing one another around the yard, up and down trees, and all over the rockwork. Because Andean bears are excellent climbers, the cubs will test the limits of how high they can go and often reach the very top of the trees in their exhibit. So, if you don't see them on the ground—look up!

Have the cubs started training?

The cubs are in the very early stages of training. Now that they have names, keepers are working on a fundamental training behavior—asking the bears to come when called by name. In the next few months, we'll train behaviors like opening their mouth and presenting body parts on cue. Eventually, we'll ramp up to voluntary blood draws. Any time the bears do a behavior asked of them, they're rewarded with apple sauce, grapes, or peanuts—they love any treat that's naturally sweet or salty!

What enrichment do the cubs enjoy most?

Each other! At this age, social enrichment is incredibly important. They learn how to be bears by watching mom and by testing out their climbing and play-fighting skills. We want to offer them a variety of enrichment to interact with, so keepers will add logs and other cub-safe materials for them to climb. As they get bigger, the cubs will receive toys like bobbins, puzzle feeders, and plastic tubs. But, at the moment, they're not quite big or strong enough yet to manipulate those kinds of objects. It doesn't seem to matter though—their attention is almost always on each other!

How have dad Cisco and half-sister Nicole reacted to the cubs?

In the wild, Cisco would never see or meet his cubs. Here at the Zoo, we try to replicate that by restricting visual access. Although they can hear and smell one another, they have not physically interacted. Nicole has visual access to the cubs and is extremely curious about them! On several occasions, she's climbed atop the rockwork in her yard to get a better look at her half-brothers. We can't tell if her curiosity stems from wanting to interact or play with them or just figuring out who what these little bears are, but it's cool to see her reaction!