Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Spectacled Bears Endangered In Habitat

The spectacled bear's real name is the Andean bear. It is called the spectacled bear because it has circles of cream-colored fur around its eyes, which make it look like its wearing glasses. This cream-colored fur can also extend down its throat and chest. Each bear has its own unique pattern of "spectacle" markings. The rest of its fur is black or dark brown. They have specialized claws for climbing trees. In the wild, they live for about 25 years.

Spectacled Bears Body length averages 5-6 ft. (from head to tail); shoulder height averages 2-3 ft.; males weigh 220-340 lbs. and females are 140-180 lbs. The spectacled bear is a small bear with thick black or dark brown fur consisting of medium length hair. It has circular or semi-circular white to cream–colored facial markings around its eyes (similar to wearing spectacles or glasses). Lines and patches of this light colored fur may also extend onto the throat and chest. This strong, sturdy bear has a short, muscular neck. Its head is rounded and it has a smaller snout when compared to other bears. The short, strong legs have feet with 5 toes. The toes have curved, nonretractile (can not be drawn back in) claws that can be 2 inches in length. Its front legs are longer than its rear legs, which allows the bear to be an excellent climber. Its large molars and strong jaw muscles enable this bear to grind vegetation, which is a major part of its diet. Lifespan: In the Wild 20-25 years; In Captivity 25+ years (longest life span is 36 years).

Spectacled Bears

The spectacled bear is the only species of bear that lives in Latin America. These bears can live in the Andean deserts and up through the misty cloud forests to the mountain-top paramo grasslands. They prefer living in densely forested areas, as they are very timid and want to avoid humans. Their range extends from Panama all the way south to Argentina.

In the Wild: The spectacled bear, native to the Andes Mountains in South America, is mainly found in or
near forested mountains in Venezuela, Columbia, Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia. Recently, this bear has been
found in the Darien Gap region bordering Columbia and Panama, as well as in Northern Argentina. It is generally found in a variety of habitats from grasslands to coastal scrub forests, but prefers the lush,
misty ecosystem known as a cloud forest or Andean forest (elevation 5,900 ft. – 12, 500 ft.). Exhibit Location: Wildlife Trails

The spectacled bear's favorite foods are fruits and bromeliads. They are known to spend days up in trees collecting fruit. Sometimes they will even build platforms out of broken branches in order to reach their desired treat! They also enjoy dining on berries, grasses, tree bark, honey, sugarcane and insects. If necessary, they will eat small animals like rodents, rabbits and birds. These bears do not hibernate, as their food sources are available all year round. The spectacled bear plays an important role in the health of its habitat - it disperses tree seeds that are too large for other animals to digest. Scientists believe that the bears are responsible for the spreading of three important types of trees in their habitat.

There are many legends about spectacled bears having mystical powers. However, these fabled mystical powers have not kept the animals from becoming endangered. People who want to prevent them from raiding their cornfields or attacking their livestock frequently kill these bears.

Spectacled bear a female spectacled bear reaches sexual maturity between 4-7 years of age. Breeding season is from April to June. During this time, a pair will stay together for a week or two, mating frequently. The gestation period, which may include days of delayed implantation (the egg is fertilized, divides a few times, and then floats freely in the uterus for several months, ensuring that the young are born when food is available), is between 160-255 days. The female gives birth to a litter of 1-3 (usually 2) cubs from November to February. At birth, a cub’s eyes are closed and it weighs about 11 ounces. After the first month, its eyes open. It is black in color and already shows the white or cream–colored facial markings that are characteristic of its species. A cub grows quickly, and weighs about 22 lbs. after only 180 days. While it is small, the cub will often be carried on the mother’s back. The cub stays with its mother and litter mates for at least one year, until it gains independence and survival skills.

Conservation Status
IUCN Status: Vulnerable (2002); CITES Appendix I. The main threat is the loss of habitat due to deforestation for agriculture (timber, corn, coca, the opium poppy) and for land development (roads, highways, oil and gas pipelines, dams, high tension lines). The illegal hunting of these bears for their meat, skin, bones, fat, claws and other body parts is also a major threat because these parts, such as the gall bladder (used in traditional oriental medicine), bring a high price on the international market. A bear that wanders onto a farmer’s land may be illegally hunted because it is viewed as a threat to livestock or crops. The spectacled bear is part of a Species Survival Plan (SSP). Many zoos, including Rosamond Gifford Zoo, are now actively involved in maintaining the existence of this species. To help with conservation efforts, buy no products made from any parts of this animal. Cub predators: mountain lions (pumas), jaguars, humans, and adult male spectacled bears Adult predators: humans


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