ASIATIC BLACK BEAR (Selenarctos thibetanus)
HIMALAYAN BEAR (Ursus thibetanus)
Habitat: Pakistan to northern India, to China and Indo chinese peninsula, then north to Mongolia and Amur region of the Soviet Union.
Longevity: 12 to 15 years in wild - 20 to 25 years in captivity
Diet: Omnivorous - fruits, nuts, grasses, leaves, grubs and small mammals
The Himalayan bear is easily recognized with its highly visible large white "V" on its chest and its large rounded ears. Solitary, except during the brief summer breeding season or the the female when accompanied by cubs, the Himalayan bear ia an excellent climber and swimmer. Although no bear is a true hibernator, the Himalayan bear has a 4 to 5 month inactive period during the winter months utilizing a hollow in an old tree or a natural cavity in a rocky area. This bear, like many others, has been hunted severely in its native areas due to the misguided belief of many Asian people of the medicinal qualities of its body parts. Ancient cultural traditions are hard to break and only education through school age children may save this threatened species.
The Himalayan bears breed during the summer months and the cubs are born during the winder inactive period, usually between January 20th and February 10th. The bears utilize delayed implantation in which the fertilized egg remains suspended for a period of several months before attaching to the uterine wall to resume its normal development. The 2 to 3 cubs remain with the mother for about 18 months at which time they are driven off by the adult male which has started to accompany the mother.
The Natural Bridge Zoological Park has been breeding Himalayan bears since 1975 and has placed over 30 cubs and adults in other zoological parks throughout this country. We raise most of the cubs on bottles, much to the delight or our visitors. The hand-raised bears will be better adjusted to people and capacity and will adapt to new conditions easier when they are transferred to a new environment. The Himalayan bear, like many other bears, is threatened by habitat destruction, poaching and the constant expanding human population. Zoological parks may be the last resort to preserving this wonderful animal and may serve as a reservoir for future restocking if the need should arise.