Back in 2001, we opened the doors to our Andean Bear Sanctuary – a haven of safety in the mystical Andean Cloud Forest. The number of Andean Spectacled Bears in the wild is rapidly decreasing, and the furry-faced species has been identified by IUCN as having a vulnerable conservation status.
The pioneering conservation programme, which takes residence within the grounds of Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel, a National Geographic Unique Lodge of the World, was designed to recover bears that have been negatively impacted by human activity, and whenever possible, reintroduce them to their natural habitat in the Andean mountains.
In celebration of International Save Bears Day, which took place on the 21st February, we wanted to introduce you to two of the furry-faced friends that call our Andean Spectacled Bear Sanctuary home, and a female bear, Paula, who was successfully released back into the wild.
Meet Pepe, who arrived at the sanctuary back in 2002. When he was acquired, he was eleven years old, two metres tall, and weighed 220kg. Pepe had been delivered by the National University San Antonio de Abad from Cusco, where he had been kept in a very small cage for years.
Pepe is cared for by a team led by our resident biologist, Carmen Soto, who is a recognised and awarded researcher. As part of his role, Carmen leads a strict monitoring system for the health and behaviour of the bears. Pepe, along with his neighbour, Coco, lives in an area that has a flowing water fountain, a cave, ramps and logs.
This is Coco, who arrived at the sanctuary in March, 2009, at just seven months old. He was seized when injured, and given to a family of Calca. When they couldn’t look after him, he was entrusted in custody by the Technical Forestry and Wildlife Administration, in view of a prompt reinsertion.
Along with Pepe, Coco survives on a diet of 12-20kg of fruit daily, and 2kg of meat. Their diet, as well as their health monitoring, is done by a team of Veterinaries.
We’ve been excited to tell you about one of our successful reinsertions – Paula, who was rescued at five years old, back in 2002. Paula was in good physical condition when she was brought to the rescue centre and, due to her good condition, she was soon sent to the temporary semi-liberty area. In December 2002, when Paula was in heat, she met a wild Andean Bear, and went off with him into the wild. She was monitored for a long time, and was totally reinserted in the area where she still lives today.
Check out this short film launched by National Geographic in support of the endangered bear and its conservation. Produced by GLP Films, the feature highlights Inkaterra’s work to protect the Andean Bear, including words from Inkaterra’s CEO and Founder, José Koechlin.
For more information on the Andean Spectacled Bear programme, please click here.