The spectacled bear Tremarctos ornatus, also known as the Andean bear, is the only living bear species that is native to South America. They are the sole survivors of a subfamily of short-faced bears that ranged across North and South America during the last ice age. The spectacled bear is one of the most endangered bear species in the world, second only to the giant panda bear, to which they are the closest related.
Their fur is usually black, though occasionally some are seen having a brownish or reddish tone. The fur covering their face, nose, throat, and sometimes chest is a creamy-white color. Within the light fur on their face, they have brownish-black circles around their eyes, making it look as if they are wearing spectacles. Hence its name. However, the amount and pattern of their light fur can vary to the extreme. Because of the warm climate where they live, their fur is reasonable thinner than most other bear species. Also, because of the climate, there is no need for them to hibernate.
Spectacled bears have long claws which help them in both climbing and digging for food. Because of their semi-short legs, they are capable of slipping under dense vegetation and going many places inaccessible to many creatures. Spectacled bears have little reason to be vocal when they are alone which is most of the time. However, when they occasionally encounter other creatures, they can be very verbal.
On average, 5% to 7% of the spectacled bear's diet is made up of animals such as rabbits, mice, birds, llamas, and domestic cattle. They are often killed by farmers when they get into the habit of feeding on cattle.
They usually begin to reproduce somewhere between the age of 4 and 7. Gestation periods can vary anywhere from 5 1/2 to 8 months. Like with most other bears, the pregnancy of the spectacled bear can have delayed implantation where the fertilized ovum floats in the uterus for a period of time before attaching to the wall of the uterus and continuing to develop. If there is a season when food is extremely scarce, the embryos can simply be absorbed into the mother's body and she will not give birth that year.
The mother will build a den just prior to giving birth. Usually, 1 or 2 cubs are born from November through February. They weigh 10 to 18 ounces at birth and their eyes remain closed for the first month. The cubs stay with their mother for 6 to 8 months.