Idaho Falls zoo welcomes twin sloth bear cubs
The staff at the Tautphaus Park Zoo in Idaho Falls has announced that Thursday morning, Nov. 29, two twin sloth bear cubs were born. The cubs were discovered by zoo staff when they arrived to work on Thursday morning.
“The keeper actually heard them before he saw them,” said Beth Rich, Zoo Superintendent. “Then he peaked in the window of the cubing den and saw the adult female holding the cubs. Ironically, we were planning a repeat ultrasound for that morning!”
According to Brad Huerta with the city of Idaho Falls, the zoo staff examined the cubs very quickly on Friday, Nov. 30. There was one male and one female. The male weighed 510 grams and the female weighed 425 grams.
“They both had full bellies, were well hydrated and very vigorous. All of which are very good signs.” said Rich. “We are cautiously optimistic at this point, but we know we are not out of the woods yet. The cubs are still very small and we’ll all feel much more at ease when they get a bit bigger.”
According to Huerta, the birth of these cubs is significant.
"Sloth bears are considered vulnerable in the wild," he said. "Their native range is Bhutan, India, Nepal and Sri Lanka. The wild Sloth bear population is estimated to be less than 10,000 adult animals, it is estimated that their population in the wild has decreased by 30%-50% in the last 20 years due to habitat loss. In the United States, only 14 zoos house sloth bears and of those only 3 have breeding pairs."
“So every cub born is a step away from extinction.” said Rich.
The cubs have not been named as of yet, but the zoo plans to have a naming contest in the spring when it reopens for the season.
Photo courtesy City of Idaho Falls