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May 23, 2023

The Philadelphia Zoo's sloth bear cubs need names; here's how you can help choose them

The public may vote for Kelce and Harper, in honor of the beloved sports stars, or Hall and Oates, a tribute to the pop duo

Wildlife Bears
Sloth Bear Cubs Philly Zoo Provided Image/Philadelphia Zoo

The Philadelphia Zoo is asking the public to help name its two sloth bear cubs. People can vote for Kelce and Harper, in honor of the city's sports stars, or Hall and Oates, a tribute to the pop duo.

Nearly five months after the Philadelphia Zoo welcomed two sloth bear cubs, the baby bears finally have made their public debut. But they each still need a name. 

The zoo is asking the public to choose between Kelce and Harper, in honor of Eagles center Jason Kelce and Phillies outfielder Bryce Harper, or Hall and Oates, to commemorate the Rock & Roll Hall of Famers, who got their start in Philly.

People can vote online through Sunday. The winning names will be revealed Monday on the zoo's social media accounts. 

The cubs were born Jan. 2 to the zoo's adult sloth bears – mother Kayla and father Bhalu, who are each 10 years old. They were kept inside their den as Kayla nurtured them for months. Now, they are free to venture throughout their outdoor exhibit space. They also can be viewed on a live feed set up by the zoo.  

Bhalu has not spent much time with the cubs since they were born, because sloth bear fathers do not help rear cubs. A newborn sloth bear relies entirely on its mother for the first several months of life, and does not exit its birthing place until it has learned to walk. Unlike other bears, a sloth bear cub rides on the back of its mother by clinging to her fur. It remains with its mother for two or three years before going out on its own. 

They have grown considerably since the zoo shared a video announcing their birth.  

"We are so proud of our amazing team of keepers and veterinarians who have been supporting mom Kayla and the cubs since their birth in January," said Maggie Morse, the Philadelphia Zoo's curator of carnivores and ungulates. "These rambunctious toddlers are sure to steal the hearts of many of our guests. We can't wait to celebrate all the developmental milestones to come with our guests, members, staff, volunteers and entire Zoo community." 

This is the second set of sloth bear cubs born at the Philadelphia Zoo in the last four years. 

The births happened in part due to the zoo's partnership with the Species Survival Plan, a breeding program at the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. It manages zoo populations of threatened or endangered species to help ensure their survival.

Sloth bears are native to the lowland forests of India, Sri Lanka and Nepal, and are listed as "vulnerable" by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. Populations have decreased during the last several decades due to habitat loss, poaching and human-wildlife conflict.