Name: Spectacled Bear (AKA
Oso Achupayero, Yanapuma, Ucucu, Yura Mateo)
Number of Species: 1
Color(s): Black, with a pale
snout and light spectacle patches around the
Status: The Tremarctos ornatus is classed as Vulnerable.
Spectacled bears get their name from the creamy circles around their eyes, which sort of resemble spectacles. They are mostly black, though the front part of their bodies can vary wildly in coloration. The bears are so varied in their coloration that each bear has its own unique patterns on its paws, the spectacled bear equivalents of fingerprints! All of these differences in color once mislead the people of the Andes to believe that there were two species of bearone carnivorous and one herbivorous. The spectacled bear is important in the mythology of many Andean cultures. These peoples have different names for the bear, including oso achupayero, yrua mateo (white-fronted bear) (bromaeliad-eating bear"), yanapuma (black puma) and ucucu (after one of the calls it makes).
These bears are nocturnal and mostly vegetarian, eating a variety of tough plant matter including cacti. They will also eat fruits, berries and honey. These bears will often take residence in the trees. They build stick platforms in the branches, from which they can sleep or gather food.
Sometimes they will eat smaller
rodents, birds, insects or even cows! Spectacled bears are nocturnal,
and are solitary except when they seek out mates. They breed most often
from April to June, though they may mate at any time of the year if
the food is plentiful enough. Males and females will form a partnership
for a week or two. After the young are born the male will leave and
the female will raise the cubs on her own. The female will make a den
in a hollow of rocks or tree roots. The cubs eyes open 42 days
after they are born, and they will start to venture out of the den at
around three months old. The mother will teach them how to gather food
and to handle danger for two years before the cubs go on their own.
It is estimated that around 3,000 spectacle bears remain in the wild. Fortunately, there is still time to preserve the habitat of these bears, as well as the bears themselves.
To help protect these lesser-known south American bears, check out these awesome organizations and websites!
Spectacled Bears Conservation
SocietyDedicated to preserving the spectacled bears of Peru.
World Wildlife Fund; Spectacled
Bear pageHere the WWF gives facts about the bears, threats
to their survival, and what the WWF is doing to assist them.
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