Andean Bear Gives Birth to Cub at Salisbury Zoo - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Andean Bear Gives Birth to Cub at Salisbury Zoo

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This Andean bear cub was born Jan. 23 at the Salisbury Zoo, officials announced Friday. (Photo: Salisbury Zoo video still) This Andean bear cub was born Jan. 23 at the Salisbury Zoo, officials announced Friday. (Photo: Salisbury Zoo video still)

SALISBURY, Md.- A 5-year-old female Andean bear named "Chaska" recently gave birth to a healthy developing cub at the Salisbury Zoo, it was announced Friday.

Zoo officials said that after Chaska began exhibiting behaviors consistent with that of an expectant mother, staff provided her with access to a maternity den.

On the morning of Jan. 23, staff said they discovered Chaska secluded in one of the bear dens and detected high-pitched vocalizations within that den. The keepers suspected she may have given birth.

Zookeeper Caleb Oliver says Chaska is an attentive mom.

"She does everything from seemingly gauging the weather, to the baby's behavior. She generally comes out several times a day and drags sticks into the den for the nest," said Oliver.

The public area around the Andean bear exhibit was closed off in order to keep noise and distractions at a minimum, officials said.

For an extended time Chaska remained secluded in her den, according to officials. They said that other than interpreting Chaska's behavior, staff could not visually verify what had taken place. 

Officials said that at the end of February, after about five weeks, Chaska's behavior began to change. This allowed staff to finally observe what appeared to be a healthy cub.

Oliver was the first person to see the cub. He has since captured several photos and videos on his cell phone. 

Both mom and cub remain vulnerable to disturbance, officials said. They noted that experience would indicate that it will be at least three months before Chaska will allow the cub to explore beyond its den.

The zoo staff asks that the community will respect the needs of Chaska and give her some quiet time with her new cub. 

"Andean bears are usually, very, very protective," said Oliver. "They basically seclude themselves in the den for several months while the baby is still vulnerable and they can feel threatened very easily. So we want to minimize things that she would see as a potential threat."

Oliver says Chaska is becoming more comfortable and venturing out from time to time.

"When she goes out she'll explore and make sure everything is safe, get some water and gather some branches before heading back in," said Oliver.

Tabatha Roberts says she often visits the zoo with her two-year-old son, Rider.

"We come to the zoo all of the time. He loves it, so I'm sure he will be excited to see the new baby bear," said Roberts.

Even though the cub isn't out and about yet, he or she seems to be a big hit.

Seven-year-old Trinity Singleton told WBOC she was excited to see the new cub.

Zookeeper Caleb Oliver says until an examination is done, they do not know if the cub is male or female.

Officials said it is estimated that there are only 2,000 Andean bears left in the wild. They are the only bear found in South America and live in the Andes Mountains region.

To see the newest member of the Salisbury Zoo family in action, click this link http://bit.ly/1CbSTsE

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