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A few interesting facts about sun bears

  • Sun bears (Helarctos malayanus) are otherwise known as honey bears or Malayan sun bears.
  • They are the smallest living bear species weighing 27-80kg.
  • Their fur is usually jet black, short and sleek, with an orange/yellow horseshoe shape on their chest which looks like the rising sun. This is where they get their name of course.
  • Sun bears usually have one or two cubs at a time that are born blind and hairless.
  • Their mothers (sows) care for them for about two years until they are old enough to survive on their own.
  • The cubs depend on their mothers completely until they are one to three months old when they will begin to run, play and forage nearby.
  • A sun bear’s diet consists of lizards, small birds, rodents, insects, termites, fruit, and they have a particular passion for bees, beehives and honey.
  • Their four-inch claws come in very handy for tearing open trees where insect and bee nests can be found.
  • Sun bears have the longest tongues of any bear species, which is ideal for delving into tree trunks and stealing honey straight from the hive!
  • Sun bears mainly rest in fallen hollow logs, tree cavities and tree branches.
  • They are solitary creatures, except for females with cubs.
  • Their average life span in the wild is up to 25 years.
  • Sun bears are becoming increasingly rare residents of the tropical rainforests of south-east Asia, Sumatra and Borneo.
  • Deforestation (habitat loss to palm oil plantations or other cash crops) and illegal commercial hunting for the traditional Asian medicine industry and pet trade are the main causes.
  • Traffic, the wildlife trade monitoring network, said in 2011 that the sun bear population was suspected to have declined by more than 30% in the past 30 years, with possibly fewer than 1,000 in the wild.
  • The sun bear is listed as "vulnerable to extinction" by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).