Oberon, or Obe for short, just arrived at Chester Zoo in the U.K. and will be part of a "breeding program" in hopes of saving his species
A new arrival at a U.K. zoo has a lot of pressure on his shoulders.
Oberon, or Obe, is a 10-year-old Andean bear who arrived at Chester Zoo, located less than 20 miles south of Liverpool, in Chester, England as part of an effort to revive his species, which is “highly endangered,” per the zoo.
“He’s here to help save his species as part of a conservation breeding programme,” a post on Facebook announcing Obe’s arrival at the zoo said.
The zoo is dedicated to preventing extinction worldwide and is the U.K.’s most popular conservation zoo, per its Instagram.
Obe has been “matched up with with 3-year-old female bear, Pacha,” according to the zoo, and director Mike Jordan told BBC he hopes the two will “hit it off and go on to have cubs together, adding a key new bloodline” to the species.
Just 10,000 Andean bears remain in the wild, per the zoo, “as a result of deforestation, climate change and conflict with humans.”
Paul Bamford, who manages the zoo’s programs for animals from the Americas, told BBC that one of the species’ “main threats” comes as a result of them wandering onto “agricultural land” where they “damage crops or kill livestock.”
“It can often result in conflict or retaliation from the communities,” he said.
Efforts have been made to reduce poverty in areas where the bears live, as it's a precursor for conflict between humans and the bears.
"Harvesting and selling honey, restoring forest habitat and training community members to monitor the bear population are just some of the initiatives that have resulted in a much more peaceful co-existence where both people and bears can thrive together," Bamford told BBC.
The zoo said that Obe’s arrival marks “a step towards securing the future of Andean bears."
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As for the Paddington comparisons, Andean bears are native to South America, which earned Obe his nickname as the fictional character was brought to England from Peru in the original children's books by Michael Bond.
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