Angela says that it was the of the spectacled bear that first interested her.
Angela mentions that the bear’s markings can be found on its as well as its eyes and cheeks.
Angela is pleased by evidence that spectacled bears have been seen inareas of Argentina.
Angela says the bears usually live in though they can also be found in other places.
Spectacled bears behave differently from other types of bears duringwhich Angela finds surprising.
Angela is upset that are the biggest danger to spectacled bears.
Angela says that spectacled bears usually eatand tree bark.
Bears climb trees and make awhich fascinated Angela.
When bears eat meat, they much preferalthough they do eat other creatures.
One man has produced an amusingabout the time he spent studying the bears.
Thanks for inviting me tonight. As you know, my main interest is in conservation and I’m lucky enough to work with lots of different organisations looking after animals both in captivity and in the wild.
I’d been fascinated by all kinds of bears for a long time before I started working in this field. But it was the spectacled bear that really attracted me – some people find it appealing because of its size and shape, and it’s less well known than other types of bear, but for me I thought it was such a great name! It comes from the patches of yellowish fur around the bear’s eyes which grow in a sort of circle shape, like glasses, although these golden markings vary greatly from one bear to another and may not be limited to the eyes – they can extend as far as the bear’s cheeks or even chest.
I’d like to explain what we know about this bear, and why I find it so fascinating. It’s the only survivor of a type of bear that once ranged across America during the last Ice Age. We thought that it was only found in certain places in Venezuela and Chile, but I was thrilled to read some reports that suggested it might also be living in northern parts of Argentina and eastern Panama.
It’s quite difficult to find spectacled bears in the wild because they are quite shy animals, and tend to live in a wide variety of habitats, which can range from dry coastal deserts to high mountain areas above 4,000 meters. They are most commonly found in forests, though. Being such timid animals they tend to come out at night, which is another thing that makes them difficult to see, though, like me, you may be surprised to learn that they don’t sleep all through the winter as many other types of bear do.
We’re not sure about the actual number of spectacled bears that remain in the wild, but it’s been estimated that there are only about 2,400 still around. The bears are endangered not so much because they are hunted by other animals, but what I find really sad is the fact that humans destroy their habitat. Spectacled bears are quite small compared with other bears, and of course they do have other enemies – these mostly include mountain lions and jaguars – but they remain a smaller threat.
The bears are primarily vegetarian, and their normal diet is tree bark and berries. On rare occasions though they eat honey, which I thought was just something in children’s books. I was interested to find that they are incredibly good climbers, and one thing I found really funny is that they’ve been known to sit up a tree for days – they make a platform – why? – I couldn’t guess , but they’re waiting for fruit to ripen so they can eat it! It’s quite surprising that although they rarely eat meat they have extremely strong jaws and wide, flat teeth. Very occasionally they do eat meat – something like birds or insects though they like small mice best if they can get them!
We’re really trying to make people more aware of the bears, and we’ve made a television series about one man’s efforts to make people understand the dangers facing the animals. He spent a long time in Peru studying them, and has published a very funny diary of his time there. I hope everyone will read it, and support our efforts to help these fascinating creatures!