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Bear cub Lola born to zoo parents 'who appeared to barely tolerate each other'

Published 11/07/2016

Lola was born earlier this year from parents brought together by a European breeding programme (Belfast Zoo/PA)

Belfast Zoo is celebrating the birth of its first South American bear for more than 20 years.

The animals normally live in isolated forests on the slopes of Andes Mountains.

Lola was born earlier this year from parents brought together by a European breeding programme.

Curator Julie Mansell said: "We are over the moon with the arrival of the cub, especially the members of the team who fondly remember when dad Spook was born more than 20 years ago."

The mother, named Alice, was brought to Belfast from Cumbria in 2010.

Ms Mansell added: "We didn't have high hopes as Alice and Spook appeared to barely tolerate each other. You can therefore imagine our delight when we spotted signs of Alice's pregnancy last year."

Cubs remain in the den with their mother for the first few months of life but the new-born is now old enough to leave and start exploring the enclosure.

There are eight species in the world but the Andean bear is the only one found in South America.

They are also known as spectacled bears due to the light coloured markings around their eyes.

The mammals are under increasing threat due to habitat destruction caused by agriculture. They are also hunted for meat and for their supposed medicinal properties.

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From Belfast Telegraph