Phoenix Zoo welcomes baby boy Andean bear cub, successful first checkup

PHOENIX - It's a boy!

A baby Andean bear cub born in January at the Phoenix Zoo went through its first medical checkup with zoo officials.

The bear's mother, Rio, has been closely raising the bear cub who was born in early January , according to Linda Hardwick, spokeswoman for the Phoenix Zoo.

Zoo officials have been waiting for cues from the mother to know when she feels comfortable letting zoo officials monitor the health of the cub.

For the first time in the presence of zookeepers, the mother stepped away from the cub allowing it to wander "briefly" on his own.

Zoo veterinarians looked at the overall physical health of the cub, weight, hydration levels, gender identification and to determine that the cub is growing as it should be, Hardwick said.

Officials said this is a milestone in the cub's development.

Zoo officials said the cub is still a few months away from being put out on exhibit because keepers are "letting [Rio] determine her wants," Hardwick said. "[She] is taking her role as a mother very seriously."

The mother needs to make sure the bear cub knows how to walk with coordination, maneuver over obstacles, navigate on his own and learn to climb, Hardwick said.

Once the mother bear feels her cub has learned these skills, she will then venture outside of the den.

The birth was significant as the bear cubs are the only Andean bears in North American zoos who are able to successfully reproduce.

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