Andean bear

Andean bear

Quite the "spectacle"


giant panda



South America

South America

Endangered Status



5.5 to 6.5
feet in length for adults
The average bed is 6.25 feet long.
Andean bear next to a bed
palm fronds, and insects

Only around 5 percent of the Andean bear's diet is meat, usually rodents and insects. They mostly eat fruit, palm fronds, and insects

grasslands, scrublands
Forest habitat


Close-up of an Andean Bear's face showing its spectacle-like markings around its eyes

The better to see you with

The Andean bear of South America is also known as the spectacled bear for the rings of white or light fur around its eyes, which can look like eyeglasses (or spectacles) against the rest of the bear’s black or dark brown fur. These markings often extend down the chest, giving each bear a unique appearance.

Andean bear cooing
Andean bear climbing tree branches

Bear in the air

Most types of bears are good at climbing trees, but Andean bears eat and sleep in them. Their long, sharp claws help them get a grip on the tree bark. Up in the forest canopy, these bears search for food like fruit, leaves, and insects. When they are tired, they gather leafy branches to make a platform bed.

Andean bear eating a bite out of an apple

Isn't the weather nice?

Because of the tropical climate of the their range—from Venezuela to Bolivia—Andean bears do not hibernate and are active year-round. Their biggest threats come from humans, directly or indirectly.

Eating fruit helps make these bears important to the forest ecology. The fruit seeds they swallow end up in the bears’ droppings, sprout, and grow into new trees. As a bear moves from place to place, it helps the forest grow.


unique features

Andean bear looking left
Andean bear spectacle markings on face

Facial "fingerprints"?

Because of their "spectacle" markings, each Andean bear has a unique appearance. Researchers can identify each bear by its "mug shot." The markings also give the bear its scientific name: Tremarctos ornatus, or decorated bear.

Andean bear vocalizing with mouth slightly open

Say what?

Andean bears are thought to use vocal communication more than any other bear except the giant panda. They make unique vocalizations that are quite "un-bear-like": a shrill screech and a soft, purring sound.

Andean bear climbing bare tree branches

No ribbing!

Andean bears have only 13 pairs of ribs, one less than other bears.