THESE adorable ‘Paddington Bear’ cubs are the first Andean twins ever to be born in the UK.

Female Pacha and her brother Mateo were captured play fighting on video as they emerged from their den for the first time.

The cubs were born at Chester Zoo in January but only braved the outside to explore their new home.

Under the watchful eye of their mother Lima, eight, the siblings raced around the enclosure of the zoo which has just reopened after lockdown.

Experts say there are fewer than 10,000 Andean bears – best known as the breed of Paddington Bear - left in the wild.

Lucy Edwards, the zoo’s assistant team manager of carnivores, said: “Andean bears are incredibly shy animals and, for this reason, are still something of a mystery to conservationists.

"So to see mum Lima allowing her two little cubs to explore so freely and enjoy a bit of friendly rough and tumble is just wonderful – it’s very, very special.

“The twin cubs are so full of energy and their playful personalities are really starting to show - it looks like they will be keeping mum very busy.

“Just a few weeks ago, while the zoo was closed, a small team of keepers and vets managed to give the cubs a quick check over and we’re very happy to report that both were given a clean bill of health.

"It’s great that we can now safely welcome back visitors and they can learn more about Andean bears and see the twins for themselves – an incredibly rare sight, even for conservationists studying them day in, day out in the field.”

The species was originally made famous by the classic children’s character Paddington Bear who, although found in a London train station in the books, was known to be from “deepest, darkest Peru”.

Andean bears are the only species of bear to inhabit South America and, as well as Peru, they are found in Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador and Bolivia.

They are listed by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as vulnerable to extinction.

Ms Edwards added: "The new arrivals are vital additions to the endangered species breeding programme, which is working to preserve the species, help conservationists to learn more about them and, ultimately, protect the long-term future of these beautiful bears.

“Alongside this important work in the zoo, our conservationists have also been working in Bolivia, alongside our partners the local NGO PROMETA and the University of Oxford, to understand how Andean bears live in the wild.

"Together, we are striving to find new ways to prevent conflict between bears and humans – a key threat to this species.

“The project is the first of its kind in the region and aims to have bears and humans living side by side in harmony.”