Andean bear Alba gives birth at San Diego Zoo

Alba, the popular Andean bear that once called the Salisbury Zoo home, gave birth to a cub earlier this month in California.

To promote conservation and expansion of the Andean bear population, Alba was given to the San Diego Zoo in 2016. Her cub was born Jan. 8; it was her first cub.

Alba was born at the Salisbury Zoo four years ago to Chaska and Gritto.

Salisbury Zoo officials have been following Alba’s life at the San Diego Zoo over the past four years.

“Our zookeepers are in frequent contact with San Diego Zoo’s Andean bear keepers and we are elated to hear the news about the birth,” said Zoo Director Ralph Piland.

Chris Hamlin, the Animal Care Manager at the San Diego Zoo, reported that mother and baby were doing well.

“Alba is showing all the appropriate behaviors of a good mother,” Hamlin said, “being very attentive to her newborn. We are so impressed with how well she is handling motherhood.”

The mortality rate for Andean bear cubs in their first month is high, so the animal care staff is cautiously optimistic for the cubs’ long-term survival.

“At just 7 days old, the cub — whose sex is yet to be determined — appears to be thriving,” zoo officials said in a statement.

Andean bears live in the Andes Mountains in South America. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature classifies Andean bears as a vulnerable species primarily because of habitat loss. Over recent years, the number of bears living in their native habitats has declined.

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