Front portrait of andean bear (Tremarctos ornatus), also known as the spectacled bear. By Christian Musat |
Front portrait of andean bear (Tremarctos ornatus), also known as the spectacled bear. By Christian Musat |

About spectacled bears.

This bear species is different from the other living species for one important reason: its blood contains 52 chromosomes instead of 74, like the other bears. This tells us that the species became isolated 12 million years ago. Among their distinctive features is the number of ribs, 13 pairs instead of 14.

Because of the milder weather found where they live, the skin of this species is thinner than that of other bears.

Unlike its closest relatives, such as polar bears, brown bears and black bears, they do not hibernate, as the food they need is available all year round.

It is the only species of bear native to South America, and the biggest population is found in Peru.

It is generally an elusive and solitary animal. Their interaction with humans is minimal because of the remote territories where they live; that is why the first stories about these bears were considered legends.

Spectacled bears have big claws which help them to climb trees and cliffs.

As with the giant panda, the spectacled bear has a very large head compared to its body.

Bears in general are plantigrade animals, as they walk with the entire sole of the foot on the ground. This allows them to stand erect to have a better view of the horizon and scare their enemies away.

In the wild, the main threats to this animal come in the form of cougars and jaguars, even though people have played the main role in the reduction of its population, as it was dangerous for cattle and corn fields.

This bear builds nests with branches and leaves in the trees where it rests and collects food (mainly fruits and berries from the same tree).

In the wild, a female can generally give birth to 1-4 cubs per litter, normally 2.

This species is directly associated with the Andean culture and some of its legends and traditions. The most popular one is the “Fiesta del Señor Q’oyllur Riti”, where it is considered a totem, a protective symbol.

Spectacled bear. By Vanitytheone |
Spectacled bear. By Vanitytheone |
Spectacled bear, Andean bearVulnerable
Tremarctos ornatus1.5-1.8 m (5-6 ft)
Ursidae140 kg aprox. (308 lb aprox.)
CarnivoraUp to 25 years
Mammalia165-255 days
18,250 specimens in 2004The largest percentage of its diet is based on plants: bromeliads, fruits, berries, bulbs, roots, bark, leaves and mushrooms, even though another small percentage has animal origin: insects, honey, eggs, reptiles, fish, rodents, rabbits, young birds.
Humid forests in the Andes MountainsIt lives in the Andes Mountains, from western Venezuela through Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia to the north of Argentina.

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