German Zoo's Bears Struck With Mystery Baldness

Bald Is Beautiful

via National Geographic

Countless hours wasted watching Locked Up have taught me that prison changes a man. And based on developments in a zoo in Leipzig, Germany, it seems like captivity changes a bear as well.

For almost two years, three bears at the zoo have been going bald. And what began gradually has become a strange and worrying sight. Zoo keepers are stumped by the cause, although they are familiar with the problem.

The spectacled bears, also known as Andean bears, are South America's only indigenous ursine species. Zoo keepers in Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia have dealt with balding spectacled bears in the past by varying the diet and cage contents to create a more stimulating environment.

However, the German zoo keepers are stumped. While they are applying an ointment to the bear's skin to prevent irritation (I bet there weren't a lot of volunteers for that job), they don't know whether the balding results from malnutrition, some kind of disease, or simply the stress of doing hard time in animal lock down.

All I know is that if one of the bears appears with "Thug Life" tattooed across her paws, the zoo keepers should probably start worrying.