September 15-16 marks the final weekend to view the sloth bears at Woodland Park Zoo before construction begins for the new Asian tropical forest exhibit.
Randy, the 16-year-old male sloth bear, came to the zoo in June of 1996. Tasha, a 7-year-old female, has lived at Woodland Park Zoo for just under a year. She made her move in October 2011 under a breeding recommendation by the Species Survival Plan (SSP) for sloth bears.
Sloth bears – native to Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal and Sri Lanka – are an endangered species. Fewer than 10,000 remain in the wild. Their survival is challenged by fragmented populations, deforestation and the bear parts trade. Sloth bears are very rare in zoos, with fewer than 50 currently living in North American zoos.
The two sloth bears will remain off exhibit during the construction of the new, 2-acre exhibit complex that will feature Malayan tigers and Asian small-clawed otters in addition to the sloth bears. The zoo’s last Sumatran tiger passed away in August from age-related health problems. The tiger exhibit will also be reconstructed to accommodate Malayan tigers in 2014.