Twin bear cubs ventured out from their den at a California zoo for the very first time since they were born three months ago.
The San Diego Zoo shared photos of the exciting moment on Facebook.
“Paws for a cub-date,” zoo officials wrote in the March 14 Facebook post. “Alba has her paws full with these un-bear-ably cute cubs. The 3-month-old twins are beginning to venture out of the den to explore their habitat (and their wrestling skills.)”
The cubs’ arrival is significant, according to a news release. It’s the first time twin Andean bear cubs have been born at the San Diego Zoo in 30 years.
Andean bears are elusive and considered vulnerable due to habitat loss, the release said. Experts estimate only between 2,500 and 10,000 adult bears remain in their native forest habitats of the Andes mountain range between Venezuela and Bolivia.
Wildlife care specialists have been watching over the cubs using a closed-circuit camera with a “baby monitor” for audio, the release said. Doing so has allowed their mother Alba to care for them without interruption until they were ready to come out of the den.
“We couldn’t be more thrilled about the birth of Alba’s twin cubs,” said Tammy Batson, the zoo’s lead wildlife care specialist. “We witnessed Alba transition beautifully into motherhood with her first cub a couple of years ago, and now as a second-time mother with twins, she continues to impress us with her attentiveness. She’s a proven mom, who now has both hands full.”
Andean bear cubs in the wild will usually leave the den around the same time and tend to remain close to their mothers for at least the first year of their lives, the release said.
Little is known about the bears in their native habitat “because of their shy nature and tendency to avoid people,” the release said.
The San Diego Zoo first started caring for Andean bears in 1938, and 11 cubs have been born since then, the release said. They are the only bear species that’s native to South America and are the last remaining relative of the extinct giant short-faced bear.
This story was initially revealed March 20, 2023, 2:39 PM.