Construction beginning this summer will improve and expand tropical bear habitats in the Zoo’s Wilderness Trek
Cleveland Metroparks Zoo today announced a new project to significantly improve and expand the tropical bear habitats in Wilderness Trek to create Bear Hollow. The four new habitats, opening in summer 2023, will be nearly triple the size of the former spaces and enhance guest viewing and animal care efforts with Andean and sloth bears.
Bear Hollow will completely transform the former 50-year-old exhibits with significantly larger and more complex habitats for the animals. New features will include climbing structures, elevated resting areas and dig pits to provide opportunities for the bears’ natural behaviors as well as future reproduction of these keystone species.
“Our Andean and sloth bears are incredible ambassadors for their vulnerable counterparts in the wild,” said Dr. Chris Kuhar, Cleveland Metroparks Zoo Executive Director. “The new Bear Hollow will be transformational for our guests and, more importantly for our bears, and will provide future opportunities for our Zoo to play a role in sustaining these important species.”
New glass viewing will allow guests to get nose-to-nose with the bears and an immersive treehouse, centered in Bear Hollow, will allow guests to have nearly 360-degree views of the new habitats. A separate viewing area will allow guests to get up-close views of animal care staff conducting training for bear health and husbandry monitoring.
Both Andean and sloth bears are listed as vulnerable species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Cleveland Metroparks Zoo is working to help conserve Andean bears in the wild through our Andean Bear Conservation Alliance (ABCA). ABCA works collaboratively with national parks, government agencies, and other conservation partners to protect Andean bears and their habitats including studying bear populations in 37 protected areas across Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia. Through ABCA, Cleveland Metroparks Zoo conducts research and training, helps create and implement bear monitoring programs, and supports development of Andean bear conservation plans.
Bear Hollow’s four separate habitat areas will be interconnected, providing the bears more complexity by offering variable areas to experience similar to the award-winning designs of Daniel Maltz Rhino Reserve and Rosebrough Tiger Passage. Enhancements behind-the-scenes will also include multi-story resting areas to better support nesting bears.
Construction on Bear Hollow is beginning next month and will be open by early summer 2023. The approximately $7.7 million project is supported by $3.5 million from the Cleveland Zoological Society including a leadership gift from a long-term donor.
About Andean bears:
Andean bears can grow 4-7 feet long and reach 2.5-3 feet high at the shoulders. Males are typically larger than females and can weigh up to 340 pounds. Andean bears are the only species of bear native to South America, and the single remaining relative of prehistoric short-faced bears. They are also known as spectacled bears due to whitish/cream fur surrounding their eyes resembling eyeglasses.
Andean bears live throughout the Andes mountain range of South America from Venezuela to Argentina. They require large and relatively undisturbed habitats and are more arboreal than temperate bears and have been known to build nest platforms high up in trees for feeding and resting.
About sloth bears:
Sloth bears can grow to be 5-6 feet long and stand 2.5-3 feet high at the shoulder. On average, they weigh between 200-300 pounds. Sloth bears inhabit lowland tropical forests, scrublands, and grasslands of India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan and Sri Lanka.
The sloth bear’s name comes from the resemblance to the 3-toed sloth and their ability to hang upside down from tree limbs. The sloth bear has a grey/white snout which acts like a vacuum cleaner in sucking up termites, ants, bees, or grubs from trees. Their fur is black, long and shaggy. Their ears are relatively large, and their long, curved claws make them good climbers with a keen sense of smell which helps them locate foods. In addition to consuming bugs and insects, they also consume a diet of fruit (mango, fig, ebony), flowers and honey.
# # #