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Andean bear

Tremarctos ornatus

Andean bear

Andean bears are also known as spectacled bears due to the light coloured markings around their eyes, which can look like spectacles against the rest of the bear’s dark fur. No two bears have the same pattern and these markings give each bear a unique appearance which is easily identifiable. These markings also give the bear its scientific name ‘Tremartos ornatus’ which means ‘decorated bear’.

Andean bears live in the isolated cloud forests on the slopes of the Andes Mountains. There are eight species of bear in the world but the Andean bear is the only one found in South America. Anyone who has read the children’s stories about Paddington bear will know that he came from 'deepest, darkest Peru' which means that Paddington would have been an Andean bear.

Our Andean bears are part of the European breeding programme. Our male bear, Spook, was born at Belfast Zoo and was joined by Alice, from South Lakes Safari Zoo, in 2010. We also have a young bear called Lola, born in February 2016. She was the first Andean bear cub born at Belfast Zoo in 22 years. 

Animal class

Mountains and forest

Diet - Omnivore 
Andean bears eat fruit, bromeliads, berries, honey, bark and small birds or rodents.

The average Andean bear is up to 1.9 metres long and weighs up to 155 kilograms. Males grow up to 30% larger than females.

Andean bears are found on the slopes of the Andes Mountains, stretching from Venezuela to Peru.

Conservation status
The IUCN believes that Andean bears are facing a high risk of extinction in the wild. They are listed under the Appendix II of CITES.

Andean bears are under increasing threat due to habitat destruction and fragmentation, caused by agriculture. They are also hunted for meat and for their supposed medicinal properties.

Current population
Experts believe there are less than 3,000 Andean bears left in the wild.

Zoo population
There are 130 Andean bears living in zoos throughout the world. There is an EEP for this species.

Key to acronyms

IUCN - International Union for Conservation of Nature

CITIES - Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species

EEP - European Endangered Species Programme

Related links

Our other bears