Vulnerable species are doing well and bonding with their mom in a behind-the-scenes den
Philadelphia Zoo welcomed sloth bear cubs born January 2, 2023, to 10-year-old mom Kayla and 10-year-old dad Bhalu. The cubs are currently not named, and the sex has not been determined.
According to an organizational release,1 this marks the second successful birth of this species at the zoo in the last 4 years, and it’s the first successful pair of cubs of this species born in more than 30 years there.
An inside look at the cute cubs via the camera in their den (All images photo courtesy of Philadelphia Zoo).
Mom to the infants, Kayla.
The mom and cubs are doing well, and their health is being monitored by the animal care team via a camera in the behind-the-scenes den. Kayla is displaying maternal behavior and has been in constant physical contact with the infants since birth.
Fun facts about sloth bears
These one-of-a-kind bears1:
Have flexible snouts with protruding upper and lower lips and powerful lungs for dislodging and eating termites and ants underground
Can voluntarily close their nostrils to make sure no insects enter their nose
Also eat fruits, flowers, and honey
Have long, dark shaggy fur with a distinct, cream-colored “U” or “Y” shaped marking on their chests
Unlike any other bear species, cubs ride on mom’s back by clinging to her long fur
“Philadelphia Zoo is proud to participate in the Association of Zoos and Aquarium’s Species Survival Plan (SSP) for the threatened sloth bear,” said vice president of animal well-being, Rachel Metz. “We are looking forward to sharing the developmental milestones of these amazing bear cubs with our guests.”1
“We are thrilled to start off 2023 with these successful births,” added curator of carnivores and ungulates, Maggie Morse. “This was a collaborative effort from both our expert keepers and our veterinary team. Kayla has been trained by her keepers to do voluntary ultrasounds, so we were able to keep the SSP updated with news of a successful pregnancy.”1
Found in the lowland forests of India, Nepal, and Sri Lanka, sloth bears are listed as vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Their populations are significantly decreasing in recent decades because of habitat loss, human-wildlife conflict, and poaching.
The cubs will be visible at the zoo in April when mom decides it is time for them to venture out.
Philadelphia Zoo is thrilled to announce the birth of two threatened sloth bear cubs! News release. Philadelphia Zoo. February 16, 2023. Accessed February 16, 2023. https://www.philadelphiazoo.org/news/philadelphia-zoo-celebrates-conservation-win-with-birth-of-two-sloth-bear-cubs