Sloth Bears Updates Dec 19, 2013

Hank is a year old today! Hank now weighs about 125 pounds. His favorite foods are butternut squash, peanut butter, and grapes.

Hank and Hana share the same birthday so we will have a special birthday party to celebrate both bears. We have ordered some special treats for their birthday and will prepare special enrichment for them as well. Each bear will be getting a whole coconut which is something they don't normally get. Since it may be too cold for them to go outside, we will likely hold the party inside and be sure to take pictures to share!

If it is below 40 degrees Fahrenheit, Hank and Hana will most likely not be outside. Their yard does not have a heat source and sloth bears are tropical bears that come from a warm climate. Unlike bears that live in colder climates, sloth bears do not have an undercoat to keep them warm. They only have the outer layer of long guard hairs (similar to our hair) which functions to keep bugs off of them, but does not keep them warm in DC's cold weather.

After just one year Hank has learned many behaviors that help the animal care staff take care of him; he can open his mouth, show his paw pads, and sit still at a station. He enjoys showing off these behaviors at the 10:30 a.m. demos (when it's warm enough for him to be outside). He just recently started blood-sleeve training. That means he places his arm in a sleeve that extends out from his enclosure for vet staff to draw blood without having to anesthetize him. He is learning this new behavior very quickly and seems to really enjoy his training sessions.

Hank loves climbing! Inside and out! He has a couple small climbing structures in his indoor habitat. The animal care staff hope to build more climbing structures in the bears' indoor habitats especially since they spend a lot of time indoors during the cold winter weather.