The Andean bear can be identified by the gold, circular patterns of fursurrounding its eyes. Because of these markings, which can extend down to the chest, the species was once known as the spectacled bear.
The only bear in SouthAmerica, found in a narrow strip running from western Venezuela through the Andes in Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia, and ending in Northern Argentina.
Thisspecies has been classified as vulnerable to extinction because of habitat loss and overhunting. The Andean bear has been affected by humans converting its habitat toagricultural areas and roads.
The Andean bear prefers rain forest habitats at elevated altitudes.
The Andean bear is the least carnivorous bearspecies, favoring fruits, berries and roots. As an omnivore, however, the species will also eat the occasional rodent or carrion. They are primarily nocturnal.
Life HistoryMales and females come together only for breeding. Female Andean bears give birth to one–three cubs in dens. These cubs are cared for by the mother for four–six months,until they can venture off on their own.
• Strong claws help Andean bears climb trees in search of fruits and leaves.
• The Andeanbear's excellent sense of smell helps it to locate food, particularly ripe fruit.
Time is running out for the Andean Bear. The tranquil cloud forests of the Andean mountainranges, where these bears live, are rapidly disappearing. Without a better understanding of their needs there is no way to implement a strategy for their survival.