Oja the Andean Bear’s 6th Birthday and 1st Anniversary

Happy birthday, Oja! And happy anniversary!

It’s been one year since Oja the Andean bear moved to Reid Park Zoo from Zoo Zurich in Switzerland, and this anniversary falls close to her birthday! Over the last year Oja has been busy developing relationships with her Zoo Keepers and bonding with her companion, Worf. Oja’s first year at the Zoo can be measured in many more tangible ways as well:

Over the past year Oja has:

  • Eaten 1,500+ pounds of fresh fruit
  • Nested in 30+ bales of straw
  • Participated in 640+ training sessions
  • Shredded 200+ ice pops
  • Solved puzzle toys 1,450+ times
  • Stolen 500,000+ hearts

On February 16, Oja also celebrated her 6th birthday and is old enough to have a cub someday. Coming from Europe, Oja’s genes are not well represented in North American zoos, so her contribution to the Species Survival Plan would be important for maintaining the species’ genetic diversity.

To celebrate Oja, her Zoo Keepers prepared lots of enriching treats including puzzle feeders, yogurt smears, and ice pops with frozen nuts and berries. These items mimic wild Andean bear’s diets and foraging habits, where they climb tall trees to acquire fruits. Wild Andean bears are important for their montane ecosystem because they act as seed dispersers. As Andean bears eat nuts, fruits, and seeds they spread those materials through their scat and help plant species to disperse and grow, which contributes to the total health of the ecosystem.