I’m Near-sighted, but I Don’t Wear Glasses
Andean bears are often called spectacled bears because of their white or yellow facial fur that often resembles eyeglasses. Facial fur is as unique to each bear as fingerprints are to humans, and individual bears can be identified by their markings. Andean bears are near-sighted, depending on their keen sense of smell, not their eyes, to find food.
I Don’t Hibernate
Andean bears live mostly solitary lives in the lush high-altitude cloud forests of the Andes Mountains in South America. They are the only bears found in South America and have no natural predators. In their habitat only tapirs are larger. Because they live in a tropical climate, these bears have an ample food supply all year, so they do not need to hibernate. They are considered omnivores (eat both plants and animals), but less than 10 percent of their diet is animals, typically insects and small rodents. They have special jaw muscles and wide, flat molars designed to grind vegetation. In the bear family, only giant pandas have a diet that is more vegetarian than Andean bears.
I’m a Bear in the Air
Andean bears are arboreal, meaning they sleep and eat in the trees. Their front legs are longer than their rear legs, and they have very long claws that enable them to climb quickly and easily. They often build “treehouse” platforms made of broken branches where they rest and hide. They’ve been known to sit on platforms for days waiting for fruit to ripen and will come to the ground to search for fallen fruit.
Diet: roots, shoots, fruits, insects, some animals
Zoo Diet: formulated feed, veggies, fruits, mixed nuts, fish
Habitat: rainforests, grasslands
Weight: 150 – 350 lbs
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The Phoenix Zoo is one of the largest non-profit zoos in the U.S., caring for over 3,000 animals, with nearly 400 species represented, including many threatened/endangered species.