Wooded, mountainous regions of Venezuela, Columbia, Ecuador, Peru, and western Bolivia; also reported in eastern Panama and northern Argentina. Live along the slopes of the Andes Mountains at altitudes from 2, 000-14, 000 ft.
Variety of habitats including the Cloud, Elfin and Montane forests. Prefers the humid forests located between 6, 200 and 7, 700 feet and coastal thorn forests when water is present. It also uses high altitude grasslands.
Males: Weight: 250-300 lbs; Length: 5-6 ft; Height: ~30 inches at the shoulder
Females: Weight: 150-200 lbs, Length: 3.5-4.2 ft; Height: ~21 in (~30% smaller than the males)
~ 8 months
Omnivore, but mainly an herbivore: at least 95% of their diet consists of fruits, palms stalks, bamboo shoots, bromeliad bulbs, and cactus fruit. Occasionally eat rabbits, ants, mice, birds, llamas, and domestic cattle.
Omnivore diet, apples, carrots, browse, and a large bone (once a week)
20-25 years, the record is 36 years and 5 months
IUCN listed as Vulnerable
Habitat loss, killed for sport and by landowners. Also, black market for bear paws. Inbreeding causes problems with size & litters.
It has a large jaw equipped with strong teeth and powerful jaws. Their fur is mainly black, brown, or a reddish color with light fur around the eyes and spreads down its chest, it looks almost like glasses. Not all bears have extensive markings on their face, in fact some do not have any markings at all. They have plantigrade feet, where both the heel and toe touch the ground as they walk. One unique characteristic of these bears is that they have 13 pairs of ribs while other bear species have 14 pairs. They have delayed implantation, when the egg is fertilized it divides a few times and then floats around freely in the uterus. This helps insure that the cubs will be born when food is available.
Andean Bears generally roam their territories alone, but little is known about their social structure in the wild since these bears are very secretive. There have been reports of up to 8 individuals feeding together during the fructification of certain plants.
During the day they bed down between or under large tree roots, on a tree trunk, or in a cave. They do not hibernate during the winter months, but roam and feed all through the year.
The bears have a trill method of communication that biologists do not fully understand. They believe it is a locator system which has been compared to dolphin communication, and is unique to the Andean Bear. It is most prevalent between mother and cub. Unfortunately, this bear may die out in the wild before this communication can be adequately studied. An owl-like call has been reported and frightened Andean bears may screech, hum & trill in combination of alarm.
They have long, curled claws that help climb trees to avoid danger.
Fruits, palms stalks, bamboo shoots, bromeliad bulbs, and cactus fruit; occasionally eat rabbits, ants, mice, birds, llamas, and domestic cattle
No natural enemies, but is hunted by the natives.
Considered one of the best climbing bears. It is fully aquatic and loves to swim and fish. It can slip through dense vegetation that is impassible to humans. It can walk on all 4's or on 2 legs.
Nocturnal and Crepuscular
Only bear in South America. It is the sole survivor of a subfamily of short-faced bears (the Bulldog Bear, Arctodus simus) that was the largest predator in North and South America during the Ice Age.
No two animals have the same facial pattern; it acts like a finger print. When scientists study them in the wild they take pictures of their faces for identification.
They may stay in one fruit tree for 3 to 4 days waiting for the ripening period.
They have a very important role in the ecosystem as seed dispersers.