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Jesse: Female, born January 5, 1997 at the Philadelphia Zoo.
A favorite spots is below the rocky outcropping in the coolness of the moated area at the right hand corner of the exhibit.
Sloth bears are considered mymecophagists or "termite and ant eaters". They have special feeding modifications that allow them to be expert termite consumers. They use their long, curved claws to dig into deteriorating logs, blow the dust away and then suck up termites like a vacuum cleaner. They have a hollow palate and have no upper incisors to allow for easy consumption of the insects. They can voluntarily close off their nostrils and their nose has no hair. This insures that they will not get the sticky substance that termites release stuck in their hair or in their nose. The termite eating noise from this process can be heard from 200 yards (180m) away.
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The sloth bear have an excellent sense of smell, but poor eyesight and hearing. Sloth bears have impressive 3 inch (7.6 cm) long curved claws for digging and climbing. They are primarily nocturnal and do not truly hibernate.
While young cubs are traveling with their mom they hitch a ride on her back. When there is danger they hide their heads in her fur. They have been observed to take on the same postions on her back each time if there are multiple cubs.
Sloth bear breeding occurs between June and July. Gestation is 6-7 months. They will produce 1 to 2 cubs. Mom and cubs will leave the natal den after 2-3 months and will travel together for up to 2 years.
They can be 5-6 ft (152-182 cm) in length and are 3-4 ft (91-121cm) in height.
The male weight range is 175-310 lbs (80-140 kg) and the female weight range is 120-210 lbs (55-95 kg).
Sloth bears are omnivorous. In the wild, their diet is primarily insects and seasonal fruit. At the Zoo, the bears are offered a base diet of commercial omnivore bear biscuit and a gruel mixture of dog meal, peanut butter, honey and apple juice. The gruel mixture allows them to use their unique lip and teeth adaptation. This enables the bear to form their very pliable lips into a tube. The bears also lack upper incisors thus they are able to suck up the gruel as through a straw. In addition to the base diet, a variety of enrichment foods are offered, including fruit, insects and cheerios.
India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bhutan. They range through dry or wet tropical forests, savannas, scrublands and grasslands and will utilize shallow caves as denning sites.
On the 2011 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, the sloth bear is listed as Vulnerable.
To learn more about the conservation efforts at the Philadelphia Zoo, click here.
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