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May 30, 2024

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Nashville Zoo Announces Arrival of Andean Bear

Guests at Nashville Zoo can visit the award-winning habitat, Expedition Peru: Trek of the Andean Bear, to see Pinocchio or Luka.

The Nashville Zoo has announced the arrival of a 10-year-old male Andean bear, Pinocchio, from Salisbury Zoo in Maryland.

He arrived in July and underwent a standard quarantine period and has slowly been acclimating to his new habitat. Nashville Zoo was selected to receive this male bear as part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Andean Bear Species Survival Plan (SSP) and he will eventually be introduced to Nashville Zoo’s female Andean bear, Luka, as a breeding partner. The Andean Bear SSP helps to ensure genetically diverse populations of this species in human care.

More About Pinocchio

Pinocchio has a unique origin story and was originally rescued as an abandoned cub from the rural countryside of Ecuador and was ultimately deemed unfit to be released back into the wild. He arrived at Salisbury Zoo in 2017 and successfully fathered three cubs during his time there. Nashville Zoo is excited to continue the conservation efforts for this vulnerable species and hope to replicate Pinocchio’s prior breeding success. Nashville Zoo’s former male Andean bear, Muniri, did not experience breeding success with Luka during his time here and has moved to the Potawatomi Zoo in Indiana.

Andean bears (Tremarctos ornatus) are native to the Andes and outlying mountain regions in South America and are the only bear found on this continent. This species is also known as spectacled bears for the lighter fur and coloration around their eyes. Andean bears are considered vulnerable to extinction by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature due to deforestation. In recent decades, Andean bear populations have been on a rapid decline mainly because of habitat loss and there are an estimated 18,000 bears in the wild.

Nashville Zoo partners with The Andean Bear Conservation Alliance, a Peru-based organization working to protect this species in the wild through population monitoring and habitat restoration. Additionally, Nashville Zoo provides radio collars to track bears in their home range and better study their habitat use.

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About the Author

Michael Aldrich

Michael Aldrich is Nashville Parent's Managing Editor and a Middle Tennessee arts writer. He and his wife, Alison, are the proud parents of 4-year-old Ezra and baby Norah.