SPECTACLED BEAR1. What is it? The spectacled bear also known as the Andean bear and locally as jucumari (which means bear in Quechua), is a kind of carnivore mammal which is member of the Bear family. It is called spectacled bear because of the patches around its eyes, which look like glasses. By chance it is the only species of his genus and the only one who lives in South America.2. Features It has a medium size, between 1,3 and 1,9 m in height, and it weighs between 80 and 125 kg, being the male bigger than the female. It is usually black coloured with rough fur. Its snout is light brown with beige patches spread around the eyes and going down through the neck to the chest. These patches changes between individuals, in fact there are several specimens without any patch. The spectacled bear has 5 fingers with long, curved and not retractile claws; and his soles have interdigital hairs which help him to climb up trees.3. Habitat This species is very important because it is the only bear which lives in South America, more exactly in the Andes, from the northwest of Venezuela to the northwest of Argentina. The spectacled bear lives in the humid Andean woods, which have annual rains over 1000 mm, but it has been found in some arid zones. Regarding the altitude, these bears prefer to live in mountains, between 800 and 3800 m; although they reach 4750 m altitude.4. Diet and habits The spectacled bear is an omnivore, but its usual diet is based on plants; just a 10% is based in little animals. Because of that the spectacled is the second most herbivorous bear in the world. Among their habits we can say these bears are solitary and diurnal; and the females usually have two bear cubs. Like most of bears, they are adapted to climbing up. They find a huge part of their food on the trees. That’s the reason why they establish some platforms for their diet and rest. It isn’t known these bears have any hibernation.5. Conservation It was considered in 2004 there were around 18250 spectacled bears in the wild, which means this is an endangered species. This fact has been caused by poaching, and also by felling and burning of woods and the extension of farming. Because of this, so many organizations, like WWF, are fighting to get its conservation.
6. Origin of its name Before the Conquest of America, the Incas had a fort in Samaipata (Bolivia) and they used it to stop the attacks from the Guarani people, natives who lived between the Amazon and Plate rivers. And it’s believed a strong hairy creature which lived in the Andean woods, the Jucumari, warned them with howls when the enemy was approaching. Centuries later some explorers found a bear with similarities to the Jucumari. And due to they thought the Incas had actually seen the bear, the explorers named it jucumari.