Andean bear

Latin Name
Tremarctos ornatus




The Andean bear can be identified by the gold, circular patterns of fur surrounding its eyes. Because of these markings, which can extend down to the chest, the species was once known as the spectacled bear.



The only bear in South America, the Andean bear can be found from Panama through Peru.


This species has been classified as vulnerable to extinction because of habitat loss and overhunting. The Andean bear has been affected by humans converting its habitat to agricultural areas and roads. Lincoln Park Zoo participates in the Andean Bear Species Survival Plan®, a shared conservation effort by zoos throughout the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.


The Andean bear prefers rain forest habitats at elevated altitudes.


The Andean bear is the least carnivorous bear species, favoring fruits, berries and roots. As an omnivore, however, the species will also eat the occasional rodent or carrion. They are primarily nocturnal.

Life History

Males and females come together only for breeding. Female Andean bears give birth to one-three cubs in dens. These cubs are cared for by the mother for four–six months, until they can venture off on their own.

Special Adaptations
  • Strong claws help Andean bears climb trees in search of fruits and leaves.
  • The Andean bear's excellent sense of smell helps it to locate food, particularly ripe fruit.

Bonus Content

One of the iconic lion statues from the Art Institute was set up in the Andean bear habitat. (Photo by Susan Andrews)

Animals Eat the Skyline at Chi-Cow-Go
The zoo celebrated Chicago’s 175th birthday with a bovine bash. The fun kicked off with the unveiling of a redesigned "Cows on Parade" statue before moving to the rest of the zoo with Chicago-themed animal enrichment.

Celebrating Seniors—Andean Bears
Get an inside look at how Lincoln Park Zoo cares for its elder statesmen with this Celebrating Seniors profile of the Andean bears!


ARKive Media

ARKive video - Spectacled bear - overviewARKive image - Spectacled bear cubs in the denARKive video - Female spectacled bear in den with cub, infant playing outside den

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Lincoln Park Zoo Exhibit