The Phoenix Zoo is celebrating the birth of an Andean bear cub born to 17–year-old Rio in early January. The cub and mother appear to be doing well and animal care staff and keepers are monitoring the mother and baby, but will leave Rio to bond with and care for her cub without interference.
Rio’s cub is a very significant birth for the Andean bear managed population as she and Billie Jean, an Andean bear at the National Zoo in Washington D.C., are the only Andean bears in North American zoos who have successfully reproduced since Billie Jean’s birth six years ago. Billie Jean has had two sets of twins, one set in 2010 and another set born in December 2012, just three weeks before Rio’s cub was born.
The cub was sired by Rizarro, a 23-year-old Andean bear who came to the Phoenix Zoo in 2011 from the Pittsburgh Zoo.