CORONA — One of the borough's newest residents is a nearly extinct bear cub and the first ever to be born in New York City under a program to get its species off the extinction list.
The male Andean bear cub was born this winter but made his public debut this week — climbing rocks and tall trees with his mama bear inside their home at the Queens Zoo.
The 25-pound cub, who has not yet been named, was born through the zoo's program to breed Andean bears as part of the Species Survival Plan.
The program seeks to knock the species, which is native to South America, off the extinction list. There are fewer than 18,000 Andean bears left in the wild, officials estimate.
The Queens Zoo's director and animal curator, Scott Silver, heads up the breeding program as the SSP coordinator — and said the cub's birth is "significant" for the zoo and the world.
"This little guy may be adorable, but more importantly he reminds us of what we stand to lose when a species is in danger of extinction," he said.
The bears are also known as "spectacled bears" because their unique markings can sometimes look like they're wearing glasses.
Currently, there are only 42 Andean bears in zoos around the country, and only six who can potentially breed, officials said.
The cub's father, Bouba, was brought over from a zoo in France to breed with mom Nicole, who was born at the Smithsonian National Zoo in Washington, D.C.
He's the couple's first cub, and will be featured in permanent exhibitions once he gets used to his surrounding.