Many years ago, while hiking Peru's Inca Trail, I had the great fortune to see a spectacled bear foraging down the slope in heavy vegetation. Even my Peruvian guide was amazed and assured me that "This is very unusual! They are not seen very often!" It's a gift I am ever thankful for, so I want to share this fabulous footage (courtesy of the intrepid Clark Kotula) we just received from our friends at Hacienda Zuleta in Ecuador's Andean highlands. To see one spectacled bear took my breath away all those years ago, to see a mom with her 2 adorable cubs is nearly cuteness overload! And they are just a small part of Zuleta's healthy bear population (don't worry, they are far smaller than their North American brethren, and exceedingly shy and docile). This speaks very well of Zuleta's wildlife management, as explained by their resident biologist, Yann Potaufeu. Please watch and enjoy a little trip into the wilds of Ecuador to Hacienda Zuleta as Fernando, the general manager, explains more . . .
If you've visited Hacienda Zuleta on a trip to Ecuador, you know the Andean spectacled bear is a special local animal that guests have the chance to see during their stay. The only surviving species of bear native to South America, they are considered to be a vulnerable species due to habitat loss and hunting throughout the Andes. Yet despite these challenges, a healthy number of these curious creatures call Zuleta home.
Unlike their cousins in North America, Spectacled Bears are much smaller and more docile in nature; they are not a threat to humans. Their diet consists mostly of certain plants that are plentiful in the hills and valleys around Hacienda Zuleta.
Enjoy this wonderful video footage of the bears, captured by Clark Kotula on a visit at Zuleta.
Each Spectacled Bear comes with a set of unique ginger-colored markings around the eyes. Since we started identifying and tracking the bears in 2009, we have identified 31 bears that are frequently seen around the Hacienda. Through our Galo Plaza Lasso Foundation, we are actively working to preserve them and their habitat.
Our resident wildlife expert and biologist, Yann Potaufeu, explains: "the protection of the species starts with the protection of its ecosystem." Here at Zuleta, we have been safeguarding our forest and páramo land for decades now, and it is this conservation culture that makes Zuleta a perfect home for the Spectacled Bear.
Education is another key factor when it comes to looking after our local bears. Yann continues that "education allows our local community to break superstitions and understand the ecological importance of the species." Through the power of knowledge, we can all work together to help these bears thrive for a healthy ecosystem and the added bonus of incredible wildlife sightings for Zuleta guests for generations to come.
Fernando Polanco Plaza, General Manager - Hacienda Zuleta
To learn more about Trips to Ecuador & the Galapagos give me a call at 800-345-4453.