Spectacled Bear

Spectacled Bear

name = Spectacled Bear
status = VU
trend = unknown
status_system = iucn2.3

image_caption = A spectacled bear in Tennōji Zoo, Osaka.
image_width = 250px
regnum = Animalia
phylum = Chordata
classis = Mammalia
ordo = Carnivora
familia = Ursidae
subfamilia = Tremarctinae
genus = "Tremarctos"
genus_authority = Gervais, 1855
species = "T. ornatus"
binomial = "Tremarctos ornatus"
binomial_authority = (Cuvier, 1825)
synonyms= "Ursus ornatus" Cuvier, 1825

The Spectacled Bear ("Tremarctos ornatus"), also known as the Andean Bear and locally as "ukuko", "jukumari" or "ucumari", is the closest living kin of the short-faced bears of the Middle Pleistocene to Late Pleistocene age. [ [http://www.grizzlybear.org/bearbook/spectacled_bear.htm Grizzly Bear.org: Spectacled Bear] ] [ [http://www.bearplanet.org/spectacledbear.shtml Bear Planet] ]

The Spectacled Bear is a relatively small species of bear native to South America. It has black fur with a distinctive beige-coloured marking across its face and upper chest. Males are 33% larger than females.cite book | author = Brown, Gary | title = Great Bear Almanac | year = 1996 | pages = pp.340 | id = ISBN 1558214747] Males can weigh 130 – 200 kilograms (286 – 440 lb), and females 35 –82 kilograms (77 – 181 lb). [ [http://nationalzoo.si.edu/Publications/ZooGoer/1999/2/fact-spectacled.cfm Spectacled, or Andean, Bear - National Zoo| FONZ ] ] They are found in several areas of northern and western South America, including eastern Panama,cite book |editor=Macdonald, D.|author= Bunnell, Fred|year=1984 |title= The Encyclopedia of Mammals|publisher= Facts on File|location=New York|pages= 96|isbn= 0-87196-871-1] western Venezuela, Brazil, [cite web | last = | first = | authorlink = | coauthors = | title = Spectacled bear, Andean bear, ucumari| work = BBC - Science & Nature - Wildfacts| publisher = BBC| date = | url = http://www.bbc.co.uk/nature/wildfacts/factfiles/11.shtml| format = | doi = | accessdate = ] Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, western Bolivia, and northwestern Argentina. Spectacled bears are the only surviving species of bear native to South America, and the only surviving member of the subfamily Tremarctinae. Their survival has depended mostly on their ability to climb even the highest trees of the Andes.

Naming and etymology

"Tremarctos ornatus" is commonly referred to in English as the "Spectacled Bear", a reference to the light colouring on its chest, neck and face which may resemble glasses in some individuals, or the "Andean Bear" for its distribution along the Andes.

The root "trem"- comes from a Greek word meaning "hole;" "arctos" is the Greek word for "bear." "Tremarctos" is a reference to an unusual hole on the animal's humerus. "Ornatus", Latin for "equipment" or "ornament," is a reference to the same markings that give the bear its common English name.


The bears make their habitat in the Andes and nearby regions, where an abundance of water and vegetation provides an adequate supplement to their very basic dietary needs of roots, leaves, shoots, berries, occasionally insects, rodents, carrion and rarely, cattle. They are diurnal, exhibit periods of rest approximating 1–2 hours midday, and do not hibernate (though they will den up in inclement weather). Being an arboreal bear, the Spectacled Bear lives mostly in dens near high canopy temperate and subtropical rainforests, or occasionally in the surrounding trees to avoid danger of predatory mammals. Except for humans, the Puma and Jaguar are the only animals in the range of the Spectacled Bear that potentially could prey on an adult bear female (the typically far larger males are even less likely to ever fall victim to a natural predator).

The young bears have an instinctive urge to climb trees, rocks, and cliffsides from birth as the inordinately protective mother teaches it to reach the highest and most nutritious foods.

Spectacled Bears are most closely associated with high altitude Andean cloud forests above 2,000 m, where epiphytic bromeliads form a major part of their diet. They are more rarely found in lowland rainforest and the dry, coastal forests on the Peru-Ecuador border.


Although the bears tend to isolate themselves from one another to avoid competition, they are non-territorial.

When encountered by humans or other Spectacled Bears, they will react in a docile but cautious manner, unless the intruder is seen as a threat or a mother's cubs are endangered. Like other bears, mothers are very protective in defense of their young and have attacked poachers. However, no deaths have been recorded by South American state governments.


The Spectacled Bear is adapted to the rainforest as it has a very keen sense of smell and a large nose for finding food in small soil crevices and in high tree canopies. It also has sharp, elongated claws for digging root systems and uprooting plants.

The bear can also recognise different individual bears by their unique spectacle markings. The bear is able to plan its pregnancy and labour in order to give birth in the most plentiful food season.

In the BBC documentary, "Natural World, Spectacled Bears - Shadows of the Forest", an adult bear was caught on film feeding on a cattle's carcass. Tapir hair was also found in a bear's droppings, fueling speculation that the bears may be predatory. Local villagers claimed they had witnessed Spectacled Bears attacking their cattle, and produced photographs of cattle wounds that didn't look like they were from a Puma attack. Spectacled Bears may be changing their diet in response to the loss of the rainforest where their usual food source of plants are found.


The spectacled bear population is under threat for a number of reasons. The bears are hunted by locals due to a belief they will eat livestock (despite the fact that spectacled bears do not eat meat in great quantities).The gall bladders of the spectacled bears are also valued in Oriental Medicine and fetch a high price on the international market.Extensive logging and farming have led to a loss of habitat for the bears.

In the documentary, "Paddington Bear: The Early Years", British actor Stephen Fry encounters a spectacled bear called Yogi, who was kept in a small cage by Andean villagers (see also Paddington Bear). Fry bartered with the villagers to have the bear released and it was taken to an enclosure in Machu Picchu. Fry's interest in the bears led to the follow up documentary, "Stephen Fry and the Spectacled Bears", and he also wrote and published his experiences in "Rescuing the Spectacled Bear: A Peruvian Diary". In the CBBC television programme Serious Andes a team of eight teenagers build a pre-release enclosure for two spectacled bears before returning them to the wild.


* Listed as Vulnerable (VU A2bc v2.3)

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Spectacled bear — Spectacled Spec ta*cled, a. 1. Furnished with spectacles; wearing spectacles. [1913 Webster] As spectacled she sits in chimney nook. Keats. [1913 Webster] 2. (Zo[ o]l.) Having the eyes surrounded by color markings, or patches of naked skin,… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Spectacled bear — Contents 1 Naming and etymology 2 Behavior and diet 3 Conservation 4 …   Wikipedia

  • spectacled bear — or Andean bear Only South American species of bear (Tremarctos ornatus, family Ursidae), found in mountain forests, especially in the Andes. It feeds mainly on shoots and fruit and is an agile climber. It stands about 2 ft (60 cm) at the shoulder …   Universalium

  • spectacled bear — akiniuotasis lokys statusas T sritis zoologija | vardynas taksono rangas rūšis atitikmenys: lot. Tremarctos ornatus angl. spectacled bear vok. Andenbär; Brillenbär rus. очковый медведь pranc. ours à lunettes ryšiai: platesnis terminas –… …   Žinduolių pavadinimų žodynas

  • spectacled bear — noun Date: 1835 a black or dark brown bear (Tremarctos ornatus) of the Andes mountains with white markings encircling the eyes …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • spectacled bear — noun Tremarctos ornatus, a small species of short faced bear native to South America …   Wiktionary

  • spectacled bear — /spɛktəkəld ˈbɛər/ (say spektuhkuhld bair) noun a small, shaggy, black bear, Tremarctos ornatus, of South America …   Australian English dictionary

  • spectacled bear — noun : a bear (Tremarctos ornatus) of the Andes mountains …   Useful english dictionary

  • Spectacled — Spec ta*cled, a. 1. Furnished with spectacles; wearing spectacles. [1913 Webster] As spectacled she sits in chimney nook. Keats. [1913 Webster] 2. (Zo[ o]l.) Having the eyes surrounded by color markings, or patches of naked skin, resembling… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Spectacled coot — Spectacled Spec ta*cled, a. 1. Furnished with spectacles; wearing spectacles. [1913 Webster] As spectacled she sits in chimney nook. Keats. [1913 Webster] 2. (Zo[ o]l.) Having the eyes surrounded by color markings, or patches of naked skin,… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English