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Queens Zoo welcomes female Andean bear as part of species survival program

Photos by Julie Larsen Maher © WCS

There’s a bear-y pretty new face at the Queens Zoo.

The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS)’s Queens Zoo, located within Flushing Meadows Corona Park, announced Friday that is has welcomed a new female Andean bear, named Nicole, to its family.

Nicole, who is almost 3 years old, will share a habitat with a male Andean bear, Bouba, which arrived at the zoo from France in 2013.

Along with looking to attract guests with her cute looks, these two bears were brought together as part of the Species Survival Plan, a cooperative breeding program designed to enhance the genetic viability and demographic stability of animal populations in zoos accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.

“The addition of Nicole to the bear habitat brings an excitement to the exhibit that our guests will surely enjoy,” said Scott Silver, animal curator and director of the Queens Zoo. “With only a handful of breeding pairs of Andean bears in all of the United States, pairing Nicole and Bouba up in Queens is an important addition to the breeding population these bears in the United States.”

Andean Bears — who are also known as the spectacled bears because some tend to have white markings around their eyes resembling glasses — are the only bear species common in South America. They are native to the slopes and lowlands of the Andean mountains in Venezuela, Colombia, Peru, Ecuador, and Bolivia.

The population of the species have declined due to habitat loss and hunting, and the species is classified as “vulnerable” by the International Union of Conservation of Nature.

WCS conducts research on Andean bears across Latin America. The organization aims to develop local capacity to conserve the habitat of the bear and alleviate a variety of threats, including human-wildlife conflict and habitat destruction for agriculture.

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