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The National Zoo's happy news: bear cubs born overnight

Thursday - 12/13/2012, 9:27am  ET

WASHINGTON - Good news comes in small packages at the National Zoo, and that's just how it happened Wednesday night when Andean bear Billie Jean became a mom for the second time.

The zoo announced the news in a tweet on Thursday morning.

The zoo first learned Billie Jean was pregnant in November in an ultrasound taken after she began acting the same way she did when she was pregnant the first time. The zoo says her appetite decreased, she began building a den nest and started staying inside for longer hours.

The zoo has been cautiously optimistic since then, noting that bears can absorb fetuses at any stage during pregnancy and, like other carnivore moms, Billie Jean could harm or kill her young once they're born.

Billie Jean was an "excellent mother" to her firstborn cubs, Bernardo and Chaska, who were born in 2010, zoo officials say.

Andean bears -- also known as spectacled bears -- are listed as a vulnerable species with an estimated 2,000 left in their natural habitat. They are South America's only bear species, and live in the Andes mountain rangel in western Venezuela and Bolivia.

To check out how the new family is doing, check out the zoo's bear cam.

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(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)