Two Andean Bear Cubs Born at the National Zoo

An Andean bear has given birth to two cubs at the Smithsonian's National Zoo.

Zoo officials say the mama bear, 8-year-old Billie Jean, gave birth to the baby bears this week. Their father is a 21-year-old bear named Cisco.

Zookeepers are monitoring the new family via closed-circuit cameras to give them their space. That's so Billie Jean can quietly nurse and bond with her young.

Zookeepers say the cubs are just one of four Andean bear litters born in North America in nine years. Andean bears are considered a vulnerable species, with an estimated 2,000 left in the wild.

They also have a high infant mortality rate of about 40 percent. Zookeepers say Billie Jean's cubs are active and vocal, and that they're optimistic about their survival.   

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