Lots of people think of bears as being giant, ferocious carnivores that live in the cold, remote north, in places like Alaska, Canada, and Russia. While brown bears and polar bears live in the north, there’s one species of bear that’s found only in South America: the spectacled bear. Spectacled bears live in the Andes Mountains. They’re technically the biggest carnivores in South America, but they don’t eat much meat– a lot of their diet is made of fruits and plants, including cacti. Spectacled bears get their name from the coloring on their faces– they have tan faces with black fur around their eyes. The rest of their fur is black too.

Spectacled bears tend to keep to themselves and avoid humans, sometimes climbing tall trees to get away from people in their forests. But while these bears don’t really bother people, people have had a negative effect on them. Spectacled bears are threatened by poaching and the destruction of their habitats– many of the forests where they live have been destroyed. Conservationists are working hard to protect these incredible animals.

Spectacled bears might not be as well-known as grizzlies and polar bears, but big fans of reading might have heard of them– the beloved storybook character Paddington is a spectacled bear!

 

 

Photo by Kuribo

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