Sun Bear Facts
Sun bear - Helarctos malayanus
How they look...
The Sun Bear, also known as the Dog Bear and Honey Bear, is the smallest of all the bears species with a body measuring just over 1.0 to 1.5 metres. The male can weigh up to 75Kg and the females slightly less. Sun Bears have a short black coat with golden or white fur around their eyes and muzzle, and a crescent shaped patch of fur on their chests. It is this golden crescent which is like a rising sun that gives this bear its name. The muzzle is short and the ears are small and round. Sun Bears' paws are large with hairless soles. The claws are long, curved, and pointed to help them climb trees.
What they eat...
The Sun Bear lives on a diet of termites, birds, and small mammals and also enjoys fruit, vegetables and honey which they lick with extremely long tongues. Sun Bears in captivity will often be fed porridge, rice, and dog biscuits.
Where they live...
Sun bears are currently found throughout south-eastern Asia, the Malay Peninsula, Sumatra and Borneo, in dense tropical and subtropical forests. Countries where Sun Bears can still be found include Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, and Burma. As they love to climb they are happiest up high amongst the trees.
Through limited observation of captive Sun Bears it is believed that cubs can be born anytime throughout the year. Gestation has been reported at approximately 3.5 months. Litters consist of one or two cubs weighing about 10 ounces (325 grams) each. The life span of a Sun Bear is about 25 years.
Threats to survival
The majority of the Sun Bears’ forest habitat has been destroyed by logging and conversion to agriculture. In addition to levelling the forest, logging roads creates convenient access for poachers. The demand for bear products is a major threat to all bears. Traditional Asian medicine prescribes bear bile, spinal cord, blood, and bones for complaints ranging from baldness to rheumatism. Bear entrees are popular in restaurants, and Sun Bear paws are used for soup. In addition, people often keep Sun Bears as pets. The mother bears are killed in order to obtain the cubs.
Free The Bears Fund aims to protect, preserve and enrich the lives of bears throughout the world. The fund has set up sanctuaries for rescued bears and continues to campaign for an end to all bear cruelty.