Scientific name: Tremarctos ornatus.
Other common names: spectacled bear, bear
frontino, cariblanco bear, huagrero bear, achupallero bear, south american bear, ucumari or jucumari.
Habitat: It is found in the Andes of Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia and northern Argentina, in a wide range of habitats from the high moors to the Piedmont forests on both sides of the mountain range. Its habitat in Amaru has 3500 square meters.
Altitude range: from 1000 to 4500 masl.
Dimensions: head-body length from 120 to 220 cm. The male is larger and more robust than the female.
Weight: females between 80 and 90 kg and males between 175 and 200 kg.
Feeding: omnivorous, mostly herbivorous, plant matter, bromeliads, buds, barks, leaves, fruits, sap, bulbs, honey, and a small percentage of animal protein such as worms, insects, larvae, eggs, rodents, birds, rabbits, deer, camelids, cattle, etc. Unlike other species of bears, except for the panda, the Andean bear feeds mostly on a herbivorous diet.
Gestation Period: 7-8 months. One to four offspring, rarely more than two.
Life expectancy: 35 years.
Sounds: Silent animal, emits low intensity sounds when it shows curiosity, feels threatened or as a communication mechanism between mother and baby. It also emits strong vocalizations.
Description and behavior: It is the only bear in South America, and the only one that lives in the southern hemisphere of the planet, it is the third largest bear in the world after the Polar Bear and Grizzly Bear and one of the largest mammals in continental Ecuador together With the Amazon tapir. Its main feature is the white or cream rounded spots around the eyes, in some individuals these spots extend to the jaw, throat and chest. These spots are unique to each bear, so it is used for the identification of individuals, some partially or totally lack these spots.
Large in size, robust body, short snout, short round ears, tiny tail and powerful jaw. It has a long, thick and dense coat, of uniform and dark color. Of diurnal habits, it is a terrestrial animal, although very good climber of trees and rocky walls.
Lone animal, only meets for reproduction. Four months before birth, the female begins to make a nest composed of branches of native trees and wool from her own body that are removed, the nest has a diameter of two meters where the mother and her young enter comfortably, it is done under rocks or roots of large trees. After birth, the offspring stay with their mother for 6 to 8 months, occasionally up to 18 months, at 5 months the offspring stop drinking milk and start eating solids. It is very rare to observe a male bear along with a female and her young.
Plantigrade animal, that is, when walking, supports the entire soles of its feet and hands, which allows it to stand on its hind legs, has five fingers with long, strong claws and non-retractable curves that help it at the time of feeding. In addition, the soles of the legs have interdigital hairs and large pads that help it climb trees and walk through different terrains.
In the branches of tall trees, they usually establish platforms up to 6 meters in diameter for rest or feeding. Bears spend a good part of their time searching for and consuming food, their most developed sense is smell.
Opportunistic animals, feed on what they can find, for this reason they are able to solve a difference of 1500 meters of altitude in a single day of food search.
They are intelligent, dangerous animals, although of peaceful behavior, that is, they only attack to defend themselves in situations in which they feel threatened.
It fulfills important ecological functions such as seed dispersal, predator and pollinator, which is why it is considered a natural gardener.
The habitat of the Andean bears of the Amaru is 3500 square meters, it was built with the support of the companies Ales and Omnitrón. It is one of the largest habitats in South America that are destined for these animals. Within the habitat, you can see that there are different elements that are used by bears, such as pools, caves and branches arranged in different directions. In addition, the natural flora of the sector has been maintained, since there are some species of plants that are sought and consumed by bears.
In Amaru live 6 Andean bears, 4 males and 2 females:
Jubal: an adult male of approximately 28 years of age, is a bear quite famous in the country, for being one of the few male bears that have come to reproduce several times under human care. It has a length of 175 cm and a weight of 120 kg.
His parents were killed and Jubal was illegally captured by indigenous people from the area near the junction of the Jubal and Paute River. Subsequently, the former Ministry of Environment transferred him to the Uzhupud Lodge, where he lived for 7 years with a poor quality of life and subjected to a high level of stress by visitors and the poor conditions of its premises.
Later, he was transferred to the “Gulag” Wildlife Management and Rescue Center, which was located in the urban parish of Sayausí and was managed by the Belgian biologist Teresa Clare. In this place and with better living conditions, he lived 12 years. Jubal along with a female bear named Palmira, had the first offspring born under human care in Ecuador.
With Jubal it has been possible to develop knowledge about his species throughout his life, as well as the consequences of the mishandling that Jubal suffered during the first years of his life. In Amaru, Jubal lives since 2011, is one of the first animals that arrived at the Biopark.
Coya: is an adult female about 10 years old. She was rescued in 2008 with the support of the MAE, she lived confined in a former small space pig without the necessary care, near Cochancay, which is located in the coastal part of the province of Cañar. Its length is 138 cm and weighs 60 kg. In Amaru it has been for 5 years, its name is a Quichua word, whose translation into Spanish is princess.
Kanchis: Jubal’s son and a bear named Palmyra, he was born 13 years ago in the Wildlife Management and Rescue Center "Gulag". He is an adult male bear, his name is a Quichua word, whose translation into Spanish is seven. I used to live in a private zoo. It was donated by the Eljuri family in December 2017.
Pusak: Jubal’s son and a bear named Palmyra, he was born 22 years ago in the Wildlife Management and Rescue Center "Gulag". He is an adult male bear, his name is a Quichua word, whose translation into Spanish is eight. I used to live in a private zoo. It was donated by the Eljuri family in February 2018.
Timoleón: an adult male bear born in its habitat and confiscated from illegal traffic. His age is unknown, but he is an old bear. It used to live in a private zoo. It was donated by the Eljuri family in February 2018.
Suyana: She is a female who was born in Amaru, on April 26, 2014. She is the fourth offspring of Jubal and the second of Coya, her length is 130 cm and a weight of 45 kg. The birth of Suyana was very important because it meets one of the main objectives of the Biopark, which is based on the conservation of species and the reproduction of Ecuador’s own species and that are in danger of extinction.
With Suyana they could learn the way of mating, pregnancy, birth and the subsequent growth of the offspring.
With this information collected, different protection and conservation plans can be implemented for this species, such as the release in nature of animals born in rescue, conservation or zoological centers. This is a fairly long and complicated process, as different techniques and ways of working are needed so that the breeding does not get used to humans and can subsist on its own.
Suyana means hope, it is a name that was chosen through a survey, since it is the symbol of hope we all have in the survival of this species.
Threats: The Andean bear is one of the most persecuted mammals in Ecuador, be it for its meat, for the uses of its fat, for the commercial value of its skin, it is even considered a pest and a danger because it destroys corn plantations or because it kills domestic animals. These last two threats being the most serious for their conservation. In some places it is believed that their claws have medicinal properties and their bile has aphrodisiac powers.
However, it has been a totemic animal for many native ethnicities, and in those cases, such groups avoided hunting. Another threat that this species suffers is the disappearance of its habitat due to grazing, burning and felling of forests, expansion of agricultural areas, this makes it scarce food and the bear is forced to approach crops and grasslands to feed, which carries a risk for human presence.
State of conservation: In 2004 it was considered that in all of South America there were about 18250 spectacled bears in wildlife. Most of the population is in Peru, in Ecuador it is estimated that there are less than 2000 bears and their population decreases.
• Vulnerable (IUCN)
• Endangered (Red Book of Mammals of Ecuador)
• Appendix I of CITES
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