Sloth bear cub debuts at the Smithsonian's National Zoo

Jun 24, 2013
Sloth bear cub debuts at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo

The daring and adventurous sloth bear cub, Hank, made his public debut at the Smithsonian's National Zoo today. He is the first sloth bear born at the Zoo in seven years. Born Dec. 19, 2012, Hank and his mother, Hana, have spent the past six months in a den near the Asia Trail exhibit. Now that he is adept at climbing, the Zoo's animal care staff are confident he can conquer the yard's complex climbing structures and varied terrain. Visitors can see the family on Asia Trail daily from 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m., weather permitting.

"Sloth bears in general are full of personality, but watching Hank explore and play in his yard is especially endearing," said animal keeper Mindy Babitz. "Only 18 zoos in the U.S. exhibit this species, so visitors are in for a rare and special treat watching him grow up."

Via the live Sloth Bear Cub Cam on the Zoo's website, animal care staff and the public have had the opportunity to watch Hank play, grow and ride on his mother's back. Keepers will share the information gathered with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums' Species Survival Plan for the benefit of other institutions that exhibit and want to breed this species. Hank is one of seven sloth bear cubs born to the North American SSP this year, and his birth increases the population in human care by 3 percent.

Last month, the Zoo's Facebook fans elected to name the cub Hank, a moniker that combines the cub's parents' names, Hana and Francois. Keepers have spent the last few months training Hank and teaching him behaviors that will help animal care staff evaluate his health, such as presenting and opening his mouth. The will continue to share the latest updates and photos of the cub on Facebook and Twitter.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature lists sloth bears as vulnerable because populations in their native Bhutan, India, Nepal and Sri Lanka are decreasing due to loss of habitat and poaching.

Explore further: Court hearing in NYC on whether chimps have rights

Related Stories

Recommended for you

South American parrot in trouble: researchers

10 hours ago

A South American parrot with a wine-colored chest is in deep trouble, with its population down to some 3,000 and a habitat reduced to a speck of what it once was, researchers said Tuesday.

From worker to queen at the drop of a gene

19 hours ago

Biologists from the University of Leicester have discovered that one of nature's most important pollinators - the buff-tailed bumblebee – either ascends to the status of queen or remains a lowly worker ...

What is the best way to kill a cane toad?

21 hours ago

Like many pests, cane toads are killed in their thousands in Australia every year, especially by community-based 'toad-busting' groups. New research has now revealed the most humane way to do it.

Petrels tracked across the Oceans

21 hours ago

Staff at British Antarctic Survey (BAS) are following the journeys of White-chinned Petrel fledglings as they make their first journeys over the South Atlantic Ocean in search of food. The birds have been ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.