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Malayan Sun Bear

We have two sun bears named Somnang and Rotana, who were born in 2003.  They came to live at Edinburgh Zoo in 2010.

The boys are great friends and spend most of their time snoozing together and foraging for fruit and nuts. 

Rotana gets very excited, searching high and low to sniff out hidden goodies. 

Somnang, meaning Lucky, takes things more slowly, usually meandering after Rotana who has put in the ground work.

Location in the Zoo

Our sun bears can be found in our sun bear enclosure behind Budongo Trail.

Breeding Programme Category;

Our sun bears are part of the European Endangered Species Programme.

 

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Status

Not Endangered NE
Data Deficient DD
Least Concern LC
Near Threatened NT
Vulnerable VU
Endangered EN
Critically Endangered CR
Extinct in the wild EW
Extinct EX

Vulnerable

For more info on classifications visit www.iucnredist.org

Size

Relative to 6ft (2m) man Relative to 6ft (2m) man

Population

Population is decreasing, IUCN June 2008

Habitat

  • Rainforests

    Rainforests

Diet

Omnivore Omnivore
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In The Wild

The sun bear (Helarctos malayanus) is known for the crescent-shaped patch of fur on its chest that resembles the rising sun. They are found primarily in the tropical rainforests of Southeast Asia.

It’s the smallest member of the bear family at around four foot in length, has large feet that turn slightly inward and long, curved claws that assist with climbing and digging.

It has small, rounded ears, a broad muzzle and an extremely long tongue which it uses to extract honey and insects from inside trees. They also have an area of very loose skin around the neck so that if bitten on the back of the neck by another bear, or predator the bear can turn in its skin to bite the back of its attacker.

They are the least studied of the bear species, so very little is known about them.

It is an omnivore, using its very long tongue to eat termites and ants, beetle and bee larvae, honey and a large variety of fruits. On the odd occasion they will also eat small rodents, birds and lizards. They spend most of the day foraging, although in areas with lots of humans they tend to become more active at night. Unlike other bear species, sun bears do not hibernate, as their food is available year round.

Again not much is known about sun bear reproduction but females are normally only seen with one cub but occasionally with two after a gestation of around 95 days. It is possible that like other bear species they may have delayed implantation to ensure that cubs are born when the mother has sufficient fat reserves, the weather is good and food is available, however this has not been confirmed. Sun bears will give birth in dens or hollow trees to a naked and helpless cub. It will remain there until it is old enough to venture out with its mother while she forages. It is believed that the cub will stay with its mother until they are about 2 years old.

Sun bears are one of the rarest species of bear on the planet and they face serious threats due to rapid destruction of their habitat which is being continuously logged for hard timber products, as well as from the illegal wildlife trade.

Sun bear climbs the wobble tree

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