WEB ONLY: Sloth bear cub raised by 5 "Bear Moms" - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

WEB ONLY: Sloth bear cub raised by 5 "Bear Moms"

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WASHINGTON, D.C. (WKOW) -- Five keepers at the Smithsonian's National Zoo have a new title - Bear Mom. They've been taking care of a sloth bear cub for the last 3 months.

The cub was born on December 29, but had to be separated from its mother just a week after its birth. The mother, Khali, ate one of the other cubs born at that time. According to zoo workers, that's normal behavior for bears, but when Khali ate a second cub they became alarmed.

So workers removed the third cub, and tired to find it a substitute mother without any luck. That's when the Bear Moms stepped up to the plate.

"I think the first time I held her in my arms after a feed and she started humming," Bear Mom Mindy Babitz says, "that told me I was doing something right."

Bear Moms say the yet-to-be-named cub is a handful; they're with it around the clock playing, encouraging and bottle-feeding it formula. A sloth bear cub typically spends several years with its mother, but the keepers know they can't be Bear Moms forever.

"I definitely feel like a proud mom watching every step that she makes," Babitz says.

Zoo workers will try placing the cub with its mother again, but if that doesn't work they'll introduce the cub to its father, Francois. The cub should be on exhibit at the National Zoo this summer.


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