SEATTLE ‒ Days before Christmas, the zoo announced the birth of a sloth bear born December 18. Although out of sight, a dual pattern of vocalizations heard through a baby monitor in the maternity den suggested that there may be more than one cub nursing. Recently, web cam footage of the new family confirmed not just one, but two newborn sloth bears bonding and nursing with their mother, Tasha. Surprise, it’s twins!
“The cubs are now 1 month old,” said Martin Ramirez, mammal curator at Woodland Park Zoo. “And although they haven’t had a weigh-in or vet exam yet, we expect that their eyes are open, and they are beginning to teeth. At this point in their development, we’re hopeful to see them becoming more active, exploring their den.”
The pair of cubs, born to 17-year-old Randy and 7-year-old Tasha, continue to live in an off-view maternity den where keepers are observing their developments via web cam and a baby monitor.
The father, Randy, died a week ago from cancer. “In the wake of Randy’s passing, we’re happy to see his legacy continue through the new cubs,” Ramirez continued. “It’s a very exciting birth for us, and it brings us much hope for the future of the species at the zoo.”
Animal management staff will perform a routine neonatal exam on the cubs once Tasha begins giving the cubs more independence and temporarily shifts in and out of the maternity den. Follow the zoo on Facebook and Twitter for updates, including an announcement of boys, girls or one of each.
The sloth bear exhibit is currently off view to the public as construction continues for the new Asian tropical forest exhibit. However, plans are in the works to provide zoo visitors special, temporary viewing access to Tasha and the cubs.
Upon completion of the exhibit complex, the family will move into a new, state-of-the-art exhibit complex that will also feature Malayan tigers, Asian small-clawed otters and tropical birds. The $19.6 million exhibit project, part of the zoo’s $80 million More Wonder More Wild Campaign, will replace the 60-year-old infrastructure that critically endangered tigers and Asian bears previously inhabited at the zoo.
Phase one of the Asian tropical forest will open in May and will feature the small-clawed otters, a tropical aviary and a kids’ nature play area.
For more information about the sloth bear twins, including video and audio clips, visit http://bit.ly/1072nOE.