The Salisbury Zoo has announced the birth of an Andean bear cub!
The cub was born on January 11th to parents, Chaska (female) and Pinocchio (male).
The healthy cub was born on January 11 after months of being monitored and observed by Salisbury Zoo animal-care staff.
The first several weeks after birth are extremely critical for the development of a cub.
Andean bear cubs weigh less than a pound at birth and will not open their eyes for more than a month.
Over the course of past few months, Salisbury Zoo animal-care staff carefully observed Chaska.
Zoo veterinarians performed several ultrasound examinations, all of which indicated a healthily-developing pregnancy.
Chaska began exhibiting behaviors consistent with that of an expectant mother, and staff provided her with access to the maternity den in her exhibit, monitored her appetite, and provided her with extra bedding materials.
In past weeks, Chaska’s maternal behaviors became more intense as she created a nest and secluded herself in her den.
On the afternoon of January 10th animal staff suspected she may be close to giving birth and she remained in her den throughout that evening and into the next day.
The afternoon of January 11th, after constant monitoring, staff heard the sounds of a healthy newborn cub through a baby monitor.
Andean bears prefer quiet and seclusion to give birth and are very susceptible to disturbance. This instinct makes them particularly vulnerable to disruptions that might frighten them and cause them to abandon their maternal care behaviors.
Salisbury Zoo staff took this into consideration and knew the importance of keeping their distance during this time.
Pinocchio, the father of the cub, is separated from Chaska and their baby. In the wild, the male does not stay with the female and cubs. He has access to his den and the bear yards and is visible to the public.
Pinocchio came to the Salisbury Zoo from Ecuador in 2017 as a wild born, non-releasable bear.
Through the Salisbury Zoo’s partnership with Ecuador, the Zoo has been able to continue its long-term commitment to the conservation of this species.
It is estimated there are only 2,000 Andean bears left in the wild. They are the only bear found in South America and live in the Andes Mountains region.
The newborn cub still remains vulnerable but animal care staff is optimistic because of Chaska’s past experience with motherhood.
In 2015 Chaska gave birth to a healthy female cub, Alba, who currently resides as the San Diego Zoo and just gave birth to her very first cub.
Zoo keepers have made daily inspections of the maternity den. They observed that Chaska continues to be an attentive mother and that the cub appears to be developing normally.
In the weeks to come, the cub will start to explore its immediate surroundings but it may be some time before the cub is visible to the public.