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Cleveland Metroparks Zoo announces new tropical bear habitats for vulnerable species

Bear Hollow, a $7.7 million series of interconnected habitats due to be completed in early summer 2023, will expand the current habitats for Andean and sloth bears.

CLEVELAND — EDITOR'S NOTE: The video above previously aired on 3News on March 22, 2022.

Cleveland Metroparks Zoo will soon begin construction on a new and expanded series of habitats that will nearly triple the size of the zoo’s current tropical bear exhibits.

Bear Hollow, a series of four interconnected habitats, will offer “larger and more complex” habitats for the zoo’s Andean and sloth bears, two species native to tropical regions that are listed as “vulnerable” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

“Our Andean and sloth bears are incredible ambassadors for their vulnerable counterparts in the wild,” said Chris Kuhar, Cleveland Metroparks Zoo executive director. “The new Bear Hollow will be transformational for our guests and, more importantly for our bears, and will provide future opportunities for our Zoo to play a role in sustaining these important species.”

New features planned for the $7.7 million project tabbed for summer 2023 include new climbing structures, enhanced elevated resting areas and dig pits for the bears, meant to mimic the bears’ natural surroundings and provide future opportunities for the bears to reproduce.

New glass viewing areas and an “immersive treehouse” at the center of the habitats will allow guests a nearly total view of the bears in their new habitat, the zoo said. An additional viewing area will offer an up-close look at the bears’ interactions with the CMZ care staff as they train and monitor the animals.

CMZ said that the zoo will work to protect Andean bears, the only species of bear native to South America, in the wild through its Andean Bear Conservation Alliance.

“ABCA works collaboratively with national parks, government agencies, and other conservation partners to protect Andean bears and their habitats, including studying bear populations in 37 protected areas across Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia.” 

EDITOR'S NOTE: The video above previously aired on 3News on May 9, 2022. 


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