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April 21, 2018  |  Login

Spectacled Bear
Tremarctos ornatus

What Are They Like?

Also known as the Andean bear, the spectacled bear is the only bear native to South America. It is easily distinguished by the white or cream-colored markings that surround its eyes. The bear’s name came from these markings, as the white fur around the eyes gives it the appearance of wearing glasses. The rest of the bear’s fur is black, brown or sometimes reddish. These bears measure 5–6.5 feet (1.5–2 meters) in length and weigh 310–390 pounds (140–178 kilograms). Spectacled bears are short and stocky in stature, and are equipped with strong legs and curved sharp claws that allow them to efficiently climb trees.

Where Do They Live?

Spectacled bears are found throughout the forested mountain areas of South America, and are native to the countries of Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Venezuela. Although they prefer the isolated cloud forests of the Andes, their habitats range from coastal deserts to rain forests to high altitude grasslands.

Did You Know?
The spectacled bear's name comes from the white markings around its eyes, which makes it look like it is wearing glasses.

How Are Babies Made?

Females reach sexual maturity around four to seven years of age, and typically give birth to one or two cubs at a time. Cubs are born completely helpless and are heavily reliant on their mothers for the first few months. Adult males do not provide a role in the rearing of the cubs, and are known to attack and kill them if they come into close contact.

What Do They Eat?

Spectacled bears are mainly vegetarians, harvesting fruit, berries and cacti, but on occasion will eat small mammals and birds.

Did You Know?
The markings around thebear's face, neck and chest are unique to each individual, and are often used for identification purposes.

What Do They Do?

Spectacled bears are primarily nocturnal, and spend much of their time in trees or on the ground foraging for food. Normally solitary, they are seen in pairs only during mating season.

How Concerned Should We Be?

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), which keeps a “Red List” of species in danger worldwide, lists the spectacled bear as “vulnerable.” The biggest threats to the spectacled bear are habitat loss and poachers who hunt the bears for their meat and body parts. Spectacled bears also face additional harm from farmers who kill them for damaging crops or attacking livestock.

What's Being Done?

The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and governmental and non-governmental agencies (NGOs) in Colombia are working together to create solutions for improving farmer/bear relations in these areas. WWF is also developing communication campaigns and is working to find priority sites for bear conservation in Colombia. With the support of international organizations and local NGOsfrom Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru, the WWF has also spearheaded the development of an eco-regional conservation strategy for spectacled bears in the Northern Andes.


Spectacled Bear cubs and Amazonian facts - Andes: The Dragons Back - BBC

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