IDAHO FALLS, Idaho - The Tautphaus Park Zoo has announced the birth of two sloth bears.
The cubs were discovered by zoo staff when they arrived to work Thursday morning. The zoo made the announcement Wednesday.
The keeper actually heard them before he saw them." said Beth Rich, zoo superintendent, in a news release. "Then he peaked in the window of the cubing den and saw the adult female holding the cubs. Ironically, we were planning a repeat ultrasound for that morning!"
The zoo staff gave the cubs quick examination Friday. The male weighed 510 grams and the female weighed 425 grams.
"They both had full bellies, were well hydrated and very vigorous. All of which are very good signs." said Rich. "We are cautiously optimistic at this point, but we know we are not out of the woods yet. The cubs are still very small and we'll all feel much more at ease when they get a bit bigger."
The cubs will be available for viewing in the spring. The zoo will also hold a naming contest then.
The birth of these cubs is significant, the zoo said, as sloth bears are considered vulnerable in the wild. Their native range is Bhutan, India, Nepal and Sri Lanka. The wild sloth bear population is estimated to be less than 10,000 adult animals, it is estimated that their population in the wild has decreased by 30 to 50 percent in the last 20 years due to habitat loss. In the United States, 14 zoos house sloth bears and of those, only three have breeding pairs, according to the zoo.
"So every cub born is a step away from extinction." said Rich.