CAPE MAY COURT HOUSE — The Cape May County Zoo has received a new bear from the National Zoo in Washington, D.C.
Billie Jean, a 17-year-old spectacled bear, arrived at the zoo May 8, county officials said Wednesday in a news release.
Spectacled bears are the only ones native to South America, county officials said. They’re often found in Venezuela through Bolivia in the Andes Mountains.
“Spectacled bear populations in the wild are threatened and declining,” said Dr. Alexander Ernst, associate veterinarian at the zoo. “Billie Jean has been an important member of the AZA Species Survival Plan through the years. She has successfully raised many cubs that, one day, may be important for the survival of this species in the wild.”
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The bear’s reproductive years have passed, Ernst said, and she is coming to Cape May County to retire.
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Spectacled bears can grow to be 5 to 6 feet long, standing 2 to 3 feet at the shoulder, officials said.
Males exceed females in growth, reaching sizes 30% larger than their counterparts and weighing up to 340 pounds. Females, typically, don’t grow enough to reach 180 pounds.
Billie Jean can be found in the bear habitat in the zoo’s South America region adjacent to the capybara habitat.
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