Andean or Spectacled Bear (Tremarctos ornatus)

At Connecticut's Beardsley Zoo we're proud of Nick and Nora, our Spectacled Bears. Here are some quick facts about them: 

Nick is named after St. Nick because he was born on December 25, 1991. They are not "mommy and baby" but boy and girl (Nick is the larger one).

Nora may look small but is a giant for a female Spectacled Bear, weighing just over 160 pounds. In order to get at the good stuff inside a coconut, Nora will stand on her hind legs and toss the coconut to the ground with her forepaws Pound for pound, bears have about six times the strength of humans. Nick weighs nearly 500 pounds, you do the math!


Named for the whitish-cream to yellowish-orange colored fur that frequently covers its chest and rings its eyes (like a pair of eyeglasses or old-fashioned spectacles). No two "spectacle" patterns are exactly alike, so individual animals can be identified by their unique marks. Spectacled Bears are one of the smaller bear species, with females weighing as little as 90 pounds. Males are normally two to three times as heavy, with a maximum approaching 500 pounds.


Although Spectacled Bears may live in desert or grassland habitats, these arboreal or tree climbing and dwelling bears are most at home in the forests. It is in the trees that they find the plants that make up the majority of their diet.


This rare and elusive animal is the only South American bear species. These bears inhabit the foothills of the Andes Mountains from western Venezuela to Bolivia at altitudes of up to 14,000 feet.


They forage for bromeliad plant "hearts," insects, carrion, a wide variety of fruits, and even cacti in drier regions.

Life Span: 

Average life span in captivity is 25 years.


Spectacled Bears are members of a Species Survival Plan (SSP) designed to breed endangered species. Once mature, the bears' only predators are humans. Unfortunately, farmers frequently kill these bears when they encounter them due to exaggerations of their rare raids on crops and livestock.