Two sloth bears at Smithsonian’s National Zoo were able to recognize photographs of food they prefer, the zoo announced Wednesday. Remi, a six-year-old female, and Niko, a five-year-old male, recognized photos of mealworms (their favorite food) in a study published in the journal Animal Cognition.
The bears, which are not related to sloths, blew at foods they ate to indicate which they preferred. Keepers later presented them with high-resolution photos of the foods, in pairs. Niko and Remi made their choices quickly, the zoo reports, placing mealworms at the top of a pyramid of desirable foods that included prunes, raisins, and nuts. The sloth bears were not into oranges and “omnivore kibble.”
“For the first time, we have data to support what those of us who work closely with this species know to be true—that these animals are remarkably intelligent,” lead author Stacey Tabellario says in the release.