The Rosamond Gifford Zoo of Syracuse just welcomed a new cute and cuddly resident. Meet 4-year-old Bjorn.

Bjorn is an Andean Bear who weighs 250 pounds and pushes 6 feet tall when he stands on hind legs. According to the zoo, Bjorn was born at the Queens Zoo in 2016 and has lived at Smithsonian’s National Zoo and the St. Louis Zoo.

Zoo Director, Ted Fox said the zoo is thrilled to welcome Bjorn to reside in its Andean Bear Exhibit, which has been unused since the second of its elderly Andean bear brothers passed away in July 2020.

“We lost Kahless and Morath in 2019 and 2020 at the ripe old ages of 25 and 26, and people have really missed seeing this amazing species exploring our complex bear exhibit,” Fox said. “We know our community will be so happy to have Bjorn here. He is a young, active bear who should be with us for quite some time.”

The Friends of the Zoo have started a donation page, Bjorn’s Housewarming Bonanza, to purchase enrichments for Bjorn. You can learn more online here.

Bjorn’s past caregivers describe him as playful, inquisitive and that he enjoys training with his keepers, standing on his hind legs and splashing in the pool. His keepers at the St. Louis Zoo say he loves eating watermelon and smashing coconuts.

What Are Andean Bears?

Photo via Rosamond Gifford Zoo
Photo via Rosamond Gifford Zoo

Andean bears are also known as Spectacled bears. They have black fur with tan markings around their eyes that look like eyeglasses. Andean bears are the only species of bear native to South America. In the wild you find them in the scrub, cloud and mountain forests in Venezuela, Columbia, Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia.

There are fewer than 18,000 Andean bears remaining in the wild.

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