Rare bear arrives at Chester Zoo

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Lima the spectacled bear enjoying new enclosure. Pic © Chester Zoo

Lima the spectacled bear enjoying new enclosure © Chester Zoo

A spectacled bear has arrived at Chester Zoo after being matched as part of a breeding programme.

Two-year-old Lima, who has been flown in from a zoo in northern France, has been carefully matched with the zoo’s male bear, Bernardo. They get their name from the light fur patches around their eyes, which to many people look like a pair of glasses.

A spokesperson from Chester Zoo told JMU Journalism: “Lima is a very confident young bear with a really calm temperament. Her personality should make her a great match for our impressive male Bernardo and we’re hopeful that, in time, the pair will go on to have cubs.”

The bears, which are commonly found in Bolivia, Venezuela, Columbia, Ecuador and Peru, are under threat of extinction in the wild due to excessive habitat loss over recent years. The breeding programme hopes to up the number of spectacled bears, as only 20,000 now survive in the wild.

Local farmers are often to blame for persecuting the bears due to damaging their crops and attacking their livestock and although the hunting of spectacled bears is illegal, they are often killed for their meat, fat, skin, fur and claws.

As well as the breeding programme, Chester Zoo funded a project in Peru to investigate foraging behaviours. The project is working closely with local farmers in Peru also to help them deal with the bears in a proper manner. The project ultimately aims to ensure the conservation of the species in dry forest areas with scientific research and education.

The bears also have a claim to fame, as children’s favourite Paddington Bear is known to originate from Peru, and with the spectacled bears being the only native breed in South America, it is thought that the marmalade loving cartoon creature is, in fact, spectacled by breed.

About Emma Marsden, JMU Journalism