The first set of Andean bear twins ever to be born in the UK have emerged from their den at Chester Zoo.
The cubs revealed to be one boy and one girl were born in January, but have just started to venture away from their mum.The bears have been named as Pacha and Mateo by conservationists at the zoo, which recently re-opened after three months of closure.The birth of the cubs has been hailed as "very, very special" as experts believe that there are fewer than 10,000 of the bears (made famous by Paddington Bear) left in the wild.
Lucy Edwards, Chester Zoo’s Assistant Team Manager of Carnivores, said: "Andean bears are incredibly shy animals and, for this reason, are still something of a mystery to conservationists.
"So to see mum Lima allowing her two little cubs to explore so freely and enjoy a bit of friendly rough and tumble is just wonderful – it’s very, very special.
"The twin cubs are so full of energy and their playful personalities are really starting to show - it looks like they will be keeping mum very busy."She added:
Andean bears are the only species of bear inhabit South America and, as well as Peru, they are found in Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador and Bolivia. They are listed by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as vulnerable to extinction.The Zoo said that the bears often share their habitats with some of South America's poorest and most vulnerable communities, meaning they are often targeted by farmers and land-owners as they pose a threat to crops and livestock.Chester Zoo are working with conservationists in the region to try and create a place where bears and humans can live side-by-side.