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Help Andean Bears

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature reports that Andean bears (formerly called spectacled bears) are threatened in the countries of Columbia and Venezuela. Their numbers are also decreasing in Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia.

1. Learn more about Andean bears. Read through the IUNC Bear Conservation Action Plan. Chapter nine of this plan contains 42 pages of information. Click here to read the report. If you do not already have it on your computer you will need the program Acrobat Reader (free software-click here).

2. Get involved in conservation programs designed to help protect Andean bears and their habitat. The Wildlife Conservation Society has a program you can learn about in the northern Andes of South America. Click here to learn more.

3. Contact the Zoo's Education Curator about other ways you can get involved in Andean bear conservation here in El Paso. One person can make a real difference. Call 915-521-1881 or write Rick LoBello at

Learn more about Inca the spectacled bear at the El Paso Zoo
Inca is our female spectacled bear. In May of 2006 she moved to El Paso from the Zoo in Jackson, Mississippi. Later this year the Zoo plans to find another spectacled bear to come to El Paso to be her friend and companion. Here in this part of the Zoo her neighbors are three Mexican wolves, a jaguar, and a family of spider monkeys, three macaws and two parrots.

Spectacled bears are from South America. They live in the Andes Mountains of Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Bolivia, and Peru. Their favorite places to live are forests with palm trees and fruits. They live in low elevation rainforests up to the tops of high mountains above 13,000 feet.

Spectacled bears are very unique. Biologists call them by their Latin name Tremarctos ornatus, meaning large decorated bear. Notice how Inca has white markings on her face. The are called spectacled bears because some people think the markings look like spectacles or eye glasses.

Here at the Zoo we feed Inca fruits and vegetables and a special biscuit. The favorite foods of spectacled bears in the wild are fruits and palms. They also eat grasses, berries, cacti, orchid bulbs and small animals like birds, rabbits and rodents.

Spectacled bears are loosing their homes in the wild and need our help. People are hunting them illegally and cutting down the trees where they live to build farms and houses.


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El Paso Zoo's Mission
Our mission is to celebrate the value of animals and natural resources and to create opportunities for people to rediscover their connection to nature.