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Open every day of the year

Winter Hours (Nov 1 - Feb 28)
Admissions Open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Grounds close at 5 p.m.
Ages 12-64: $13
Ages 65+: $11
Ages 3-11: $9
2 and Under: Free

2014 Free Days: 11/3, 11/14, 11/20

Ursus thibetanus

ASIATIC BLACK BEAR


Classification

Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Family: Ursidae
Genus: Ursus
Species: thibetanus

Exhibits

Fun Facts

  • Asiatic black bears are the most bipedal of all bears. They have been known to walk upright for over a quarter mile.
  • They are sometimes called “moon bears” due to the crescent-shaped white marking on the chest.
  • Asiatic black bears share habitat with the giant panda and even feed on bamboo - the panda’s favorite food.

ASIATIC BLACK BEAR


Distribution

Southern Asia including Pakistan and Afghanistan, extending across northern India into China with isolated populations found in Japan, Taiwan, Korea and southeast Russia.

Habitat

Asiatic black bears live in moist temperate forests in the hills and mountains of their range up to elevations of 9,900 feet in summer.

Physical Description

  • They are four-and-a-half to five-and-a-half feet long (1.4-1.7 m) nose to tail.
  • Males weigh 220-440 pounds (99-199 kg): females weigh 110-275 pounds (50-125 kg).
  • These bears have a thick black coat with a purplish sheen in sunlight
  • They have a characteristic white or cream-colored V-shaped crescent across their chest and can have white fur under their chin and lower lip
  • They have a mane of long hair about six inches long around their face.
  • Their ears are larger than other bear species.

 

Diet

What Does It Eat?

In the wild: Insects, honey, fruits, nuts, berries, small mammals, carrion and sometimes domestic livestock
At the zoo: Omnivore chow with fruits, vegetables and occasionally fish

What Eats It?

Humans kill Asiatic black bears for their gall bladders and other body parts used in traditional medicines. They may also be preyed upon, especially when young or old, by other top level predators, such as tigers, that live in the same habitat.

Social Organization

Asiatic black bears live and hunt alone except for mating pairs and females with cubs.

Life Cycle

Bears reach sexual maturity at about three years of age. After summer mating, the development of the fetus may be delayed until food resources are optimal. After a gestation of seven to eight months one to three cubs are born in trees or caves. The blind, helpless cubs weigh about eight ounces (227 g) at birth. They open their eyes at about one month. By two months they will follow their mother to forage for food. The cubs stay with their mother until about two years of age when she will cast them away. The reported lifespan of the Asiatic black bear in the wild is about 24 years. In captivity, they can live as long as 33 years.

Adaptations

Up a Tree

Asiatic black bears have strong, curved claws up to two inches (5 cm) long and strong forelimbs that aid in climbing trees and digging for food. Their paws do not have fur. The bare foot pads aid in climbing trees to reach foods such as acorns, chestnuts, walnuts and fruits. Trees also provide safety for bears especially cubs.

Check out These Teeth

Bears are the only large predators that regularly eat both meat and plants. They have large canines and smaller pointed incisors to help catch and kill prey as well as flat grinding molars in back for chewing plant material. This species of bear is more carnivorous than its American counterparts.

Scare Tactics

Asiatic black bears have a ruff of longer hairs around their face and neck. The longer hairs make them appear larger and may help fend off attacks from predators. The bright white marking on their chest provides a startling display when they stand upright and may also help prevent attacks.

Conservation Connection

IUCN Status: Vulnerable.

Asiatic black bears are endangered due to habitat fragmentation and loss and poaching for their gall bladders, meat, bones and paws. These bear parts are used in traditional Chinese medicines. Asiatic black bears are sometimes killed because they damage valuable trees and sometimes kill domestic livestock. It is not known how many bears still live in the wild.

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