Sun Bear

SunbearOther Names: Malayan Sun Bear, Dog Bear, Honey Bear
Scientific Name: Helarctos malayanus
Conservation Status: Vulnerable
Body Length: 1.1–1.4 m
Weight: 50–65 kg
Gestation: 96 days
Number of young: 1–3

Distribution: South-east Asia
Habitat: Tropical and lowland forest.

Description: Sun Bears have very short, smooth fur that varies from black to grey. They get the name ‘Sun Bear’ from the yellow rising-sun-shaped patch on their chest. Sun Bears have very long, curved claws which are helpful in tree climbing and extracting food from logs.

Diet: Sun Bears are omnivores and eat a range of fruit, eggs, honey, grubs, small mammals and shoots.

In the wild: Very little is actually known about Sun Bears in the wild because they are difficult to track and observe. They are mostly nocturnal and spend the day sleeping and sunbathing in trees. Unlike other bears, Sun Bears do not hibernate. This is because food is available all year round.

Threats: Habitat destruction and poaching are major threats to the Sun Bear. Bear paw soup is a delicacy in some Asian cultures. Restaurants keep the bears in small cages in cruel conditions and their paws are cut off to make the soup.

At Perth Zoo: Perth Zoo’s Project Sun Bear campaign raised over $330,000 to help build a new home at Perth Zoo for two rescued Sun Bears from Cambodia. They can be seen in the Asian Rainforest.

Perth Zoo supports the conservation of bears in South-East Asia, including Sun Bears, through its ongoing partnership with the Free The Bears Fund and donations made by the community to the Zoo’s fundraising program Wildlife Conservation Action. Find out more about the conservation of these bear species.

Did you know? Sun Bears have a very long tongue that can protrude up to 25 cm. They use their tongue to extract grubs, honey and other food from holes and crevices. The bear will also put its paws into termites’ nests. When the termites crawl onto the bear’s paws, they are licked off.

Download the Sun Bear Fact Sheet (pdf).

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