Potawatomi Zoo bear Muniri moving to new exhibit

Potawatomi Zoo

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- The Potawatomi Zoo’s Andean bear, Muniri, is officially moving into his new exhibit this week, the zoo announced on Thursday.

“We’ve been waiting for this moment for almost two years now,” says Josh Sisk, executive director of the Potawatomi Zoo. “I’m so excited to see how Muniri enjoys his new space, and how people enjoy watching him.”

According to zoo officials, Muniri is a 9-year-old, 250-pound bear whose species is considered vulnerable. 

“Having a vulnerable species of bear that most people don’t know about is a great opportunity for us to tell an important conservation story,” said Sisk. “We’re hoping to have a breeding recommendation in the future, so not only will we be able to talk about Andean bear conservation, we’ll be able to contribute to species preservation.”

Muniri moved to the zoo on Aug. 30 of last year on the recommendation of the Andean Bear Species Survival Plan, a cooperative population management program through the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.

Zoo officials say that he lived in the zoo’s old lion habitat while the Zoo was completing the Andean bear exhibit.

The zoo's Andean bear habitat is connected to The Lodge, a new concessions and dining facility at the Zoo. Together, the habitat and dining facility were part of a $6.2 million project. While The Lodge officially opened on March 28, officials say the zoo took a few extra months to complete the bear habitat and grow grass for Muniri’s comfort.

"Andean bears, also known as spectacled bears, are native to the Andean mountains of South America," zoo officials said. "They’re the last species in the short-faced bear genus (Tremarctos). Andean bears are considered vulnerable to extinction due to loss of habitat and poaching."

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