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.
Andean bears are facing a high risk of extinction in the wild with threats including habitat destruction, hunting for their meat and supposed medicinal purposes.
Forest, shrubland and grassland – in the tropical Andes Mountains from Venezuela to Peru.
Andean bear population is decreasing with estimates ranging from 2,500 to 10,000 living in the wild.
Omnivore – eats fruit, bromeliads, berries, honey, bark, small birds and rodents.