Billie Jean, a three-year-old female spectacled bear, made her debut at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo. Weighing about 113 pounds and still growing, she is quite agile—climbing high in the new structures in her yard. The installation of the new climbing structures are part of the Zoo’s enrichment efforts to provide our animals with physically and mentally stimulating and challenging environments, offering them opportunities to utilize their natural behaviors and abilities. Specifically, spectacled bears spend a vast amount of time climbing in the wild.
The only bear native to South America, spectacled bears (sometimes called Andean bears) live in the Andes range and outlying mountain ranges, from western Venezuela south to Bolivia. Each individual spectacled bear has its own distinctive set or “fingerprint” of distinct cream or whitish markings on its head, throat and chest.
The Zoo is now home to three South American spectacled bears, including a senior female (Bandit) and an adult male (Nikki). Eventually, Nikki may breed with Billie Jean, a pairing recommended by the Species Survival Plan for spectacled bears.
Visitors may see Billie Jean on exhibit daily from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. (located near Amazonia).