Sloth bear cubs explore outdoors

Twin sloth bear cubs born in December at Woodland Park Zoo took their first steps into the outdoor exhibit last week.

The 3½-month-old sloth bears were born to 9-year-old mother Tasha and 16-year-old father Randy, the first offspring between the parents and the first birth of sloth bears at the zoo since 2004. The family has been living in an off-view maternity den where the first-time mom could bond with her cubs in a quiet, comfortable environment. The father died in January of cancer.

The mother has not allowed veterinary staff to handle the cubs for exams so the sex of the cubs is unknown. Up until now, the cubs have been glued to mom’s side behind the scenes. “Through observational evaluations, we could see the cubs were growing and doing well,” said Pat Owen, a collection manager at Woodland Park Zoo. “Tasha’s motherly instincts kicked in right away and we remained confident she was providing excellent maternal care.”

The sloth bear exhibit has been off view to the public since last fall when the zoo began construction for the new Bamboo Forest Reserve. The first phase of the $19.6 million exhibit project, which opens May 4, features Asian small-clawed otters, a tropical aviary and a kids’ nature play area. A temporary path to the sloth bear exhibit will allow visitor viewing.

For updated photos and footage of the cubs, visit www.zoo.org/zoobabies.

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