Sun Bears
{short description of image} Name: Malayan Sun bears
Scientific name:  Helarctos malayanus
Range:  Tropical/ subtropical forest. Southeastern portion of Asia (Borneo, Burma, Kampuchea, Laos, Malay Peninsula, Thailand, Cambodia, Bangladesh, South China possibly, Sumatra, &Vietnam.
Habitat: Makes it home in low land tropical and rain forest area of Southeastern Asia. 
Status: Due to habitat destruction serious threat is Asian pet trade. Also different parts are believe to potent medicines, especially gallbladders. 
Diet consists mostly of termites, birds, small mammals, and even bits of oil palms, and other commercial crops.
Diet in the zoo: omnivorous diet.
Location in the zoo:  Asian Falls
Physical description: Sun bears are the smallest of all the bears. The male weigh between 60-190 pounds. Female species are 20% less than the males. Their lengths are ~3.5' and have shoulder heights of 2'. Their coloration includes whitish or orange chest mark & muzzle (hence the name "sun bear") coat. Short & sleek for tropical climate Feet.
{short description of image}General information

Sun bears are primarily nocturnal. Arboreal, build their nests in tree branches to nap & "sunbathe" during the day. However it does not den. Even though the life span of the wild are unknown, the ones held captive are believe to have a life span of 12-24 years. Young sun bears are good-natured and playful but, older sun bear often become bad tempered and are dangerous (wildlife fact, section 140). In Asia, many of the endangered species are decimated for the dinner tables. Untold number of creatures plucked from their habitat become not only the piece de resistance at oriental banquet but, are also house pet and ingredient for traditional Chinese medicine (Mills Judy, 40).

Special anatomical, physiological or behavioral adaptations

Their jaws are disproportionately large to break open hard fruit such as coconuts. Their tongue is extraordinarily long to get insects out of logs. The ears of the Malayan sun bear are smaller and rounder than that of other bears. In fact, their teethes are flatter than other bears and, the canines are long enough to protrude between lips.

Comments about the Sun bear of the Fort Worth Zoo

{short description of image}       Named for the golden crescent, or" U" shaped golden patch on their chest, sun bears are otherwise all black with smooth, short fur.  As for their reproductive habits, there is little available information. Captive breeding has produced wild and  different gestation periods that scientists are not even sure if the sun bear has a mechanism of delayed implantation. The bears are omnivorous, they diet on fruits, insects, small mammals, and birds. The sun bears will sometimes damage coconut palm, banana, and cocoa plantations through foraging.       The species is thought to be intelligent. One sun bear inserted a claw into a keyhole and turned it after watching someone unlock the door with a key. Like a tree trunk, you can count the rings of a sun bear's tooth to tell its age. The sun bear has a highly developed sense of smell and a wet nose like a dog. Just like dogs, sun bears also sit up and sniff the air. The sun bear walk or hop up tree trunk when climbing. They also descend backward with their hind feet first. Mating among this mammalians occur at any time of the year and the sun bear it self is monogamous (It mates with only one partner that it stays with for the rest of its life). The litter usually has two 10 to 12 ounces cubs born on the ground in a secluded spot and the young remain with the mother for some time learning hunting and feeding habits from her.

Personal Observations

The skin of the bear is covered with a black coat made of sleek, short hair. It has a white or yellowish patch on its chest shaped like half moon and a muzzle that is yellowed and shorter than that of the black bear.  In fact the claws of the Malayan sun bear is approximately six inches and are curved with hairless soles that serves as an adaptive measure to help the bear in climbing trees. At the Zoo, the bear was very friendly and playful. Don't be deceived by this reaction of the sun bear and think that they are not dangerous. From upon visiting the Zoo, I was told that these animals, in the wild are very dangerous and indeed fearful.

Related Links:
http://www. animals/sun/

Page author: Kenneth Eke. 
E-mail:  chuku66 @. 

WhoZoo Home
Animal Index
Source list:

Wild life fact. Section 140. 

Mills, Judy. International wild life: 21(1): 40. 1991 January.
{http://www. bagheera. com/clasroom/casestud/sunbear.htm}. 
{http://www. animals/sun/}.