Name the bear cub at London Zoo
Tuesday 31 July 2001
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BABY BEAR BORN AT LONDON ZOO
London Zoo has welcomed one of the most exciting new arrivals this year - a female sloth bear cub. London Zoo is the only place you can see this endangered species in the UK, and the birth is a real boost to the European Breeding Programme (EEP). In the wake of the excitement, the Keepers are looking for your help to find a name for the cub.
The bear cub was born on 4 February 2001, and follows in the footsteps of a long line of famous London Zoo bears. Winnie, an American black bear, was the inspiration behind the A.A Milne character 'Winnie the Pooh', and also Brumas the popular polar bear who lived at the Zoo in the 1950s.
When born, the cub was a pink, helpless, hairless bundle, and was feeding solely from her mother for the first 8 weeks of her life. Initially riding on her mum's back, she now walks around independently and has been feeding on the same diet as mum, though still occasionally suckling from her mother. Now, she is about 50cm from nose to rump, has a shoulder height of about 30cm and weighs about 8 -10 kilos, making our new addition about the size of a small dog.
Ray Charter, Head Keeper of Big Cats and Bear Mountain says "We're all enormously excited about the cub's progress. She's a beautiful little bear, fascinated by everything around her and she's certain to be popular with our visitors. Also, it's a fantastic achievement, because every addition to the breeding programme for sloth bears is a real step forward in the conservation of these animals."
There are two sub-species of sloth bear: one from Sri Lanka where it is estimated that there are only 400 remaining, and the other from the Indian sub-continent where an estimated 1000 remain. The decrease in numbers is mainly due to habitat loss, traditional medicine, and even now, cubs are taken and used as dancing bears.
The mother, Lanka, is 16 years old and came to London Zoo from Warsaw, Poland in 1997 with father Ceylon. This is the second cub Lanka has given birth to at London Zoo; in 1998 she gave birth to Colombo. Sadly, Ceylon died in October 2000. As with the birth of Colombo in 1998, Keepers monitored the birth and progress of the new cub using low-light closed circuit television (CCTV), which enables them to keep a close watch without disturbing the mother. Additionally, this accumulated CCTV footage of Colombo in 1998 and the new cub this year, will prove an invaluable reference for keepers involved in the captive breeding of this rare species.
The cub's home is Bear Mountain, the largest urban bear enclosure in Europe, which is one of London Zoo's most striking features and a well known London landmark. The spectacular enclosure was completely re-designed in 1998 and transformed into a spacious, diverse and stimulating environment, complete with ropes, trees and undergrowth. The keepers spend hours on 'behavioural enrichment', laying honey trails and hiding food for the bears in nooks and crannies all over the enclosure. The Keepers feed them around 7-10 kilos of food every day including fruit, nuts, porridge, insects and coconuts.
One thing the keepers need a hand with, however, is deciding on a name for the baby bear, so... the competition is now on! Entries should be directed to the London Zoo website at www.londonzoo.co.uk .
Notes to Editors:
- Sloth bears are found in forests and scrubland at varying altitudes, in fragmented populations across the Indian sub-continent and in Sri Lanka.
- When fully grown, they have a shaggy jet-black coat with a white muzzle and distinctive 'V' on the chest.
- They weigh between 80-120 Kilos and are 1.0 metres high at the shoulder, though females can be slightly smaller. On their hind legs, they stand 1.8 metres tall.
- As omnivores and opportunists, their long claws tear through wood and termite mounds, and 50% of their diet is invertebrates
- They also have a unique evolutionary adaptation where their top front teeth have been replaced by a flap of skin that lets them create a vacuum cleaner effect! The distinctive noise can be heard some distance away as they suck up termites via their long trough-like tongue
- Females typically have one or two cubs and breeding can take place throughout the year
- Females do not eat for around 2 months after giving birth and use up stocks of fat stored on their hind legs
- Sloth bears have a flexible social structure, and can be solitary or live in family groups
- The mother, Lanka is at a stage where she is very protective of her cub, so three year old Colombo, her first cub, is being kept separate
- The sloth bear is one of four Asian species of bear under extreme pressure from habitat loss, snaring and poisoning, their capture to be used as dancing bears, and their use in traditional medicine
- For further information/photography, please contact:
Debbie Curtis/Joe Laing/Peter Beatty
London Zoo Press Office
Tel: 020 7449 6363/6361/6236
Fax: 020 7449 6362
Alex Hall/Tanya Rawlinson
Hill Murray PR
Tel: 020 7881 3232
Fax: 020 7881 3263
London Zoo Admission Charges 2001:
Senior Citizen £8.50
Child (3-15) £7.00
Child (under 3) free
Saver Ticket (new for 2001) (2 adults + 2 kids or 1 adult + 3 kids) £30.00
Joint Adult £70
Senior Citizen/Student £35.00
Child (3-15) £30.00.
Lifewatch membership allows unlimited free admission to London Zoo and subscription to Lifewatch magazine for one year, invitations to member events, discount at the London Zoo shop and two half-price guest vouchers to London Zoo or Whipsnade Wild Animal Park.
Season Ticket (new for 2001):
Includes unlimited free access to London Zoo and a subscription to Lifewatch magazine.
Joint Adult £60.00
Senior Citizen/Student £25.00
Child 3-15 £21.00
School or group £10.00
Car - Zoo visitor £5.00
Open every day except Christmas Day 2001
10.00am - 4.00pm in Winter (November to February)
10.00am - 5.30pm in Summer (March - October)
Location and transport:
Regent's Park (Outer Circle) London NW1 4RY
Nearest Underground: Camden Town (Northern Line)
Buses: Services run from Oxford Circus, Camden Town and Baker Street. Take the 274 to Ormonde Terrace or the C2 to Gloucester Gate.
Waterbus: The London Waterbus Company runs an hourly service from April to the end of September from Camden Lock or Little Venice to London Zoo from 10.00am to 5.00pm daily.
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