There are three (female) sun bears at Oakland Zoo. One of them, Ting Ting, was born in the wilds of Malaysia. When she was just a cub, her mother was killed by poachers and Ting Ting was sold into the pet trade – living the next four years of her life in a small cage. At age 4, Ting Ting was confiscated by the Malaysian government and in 2000, the American Association of Zoos and Aquariums (of which Oakland Zoo is a member) arranged the import of Ting Ting to the San Diego Zoo. Ting Ting left San Diego to her new forever-home at Oakland Zoo in 2006 – along with another sun bear from San Diego Zoo named Bulan. In 2010 they were joined by Pagi, also from the San Diego Zoo. Here, all three bears can enjoy the most spacious sun bear exhibit in the United States.
The three sun bears in this exhibit like to climb trees, sleep in their hammocks, bask in the sun, balance on downed trees, and build dens near their pond. Sun bears are the smallest bear species. They can grow to be around 4.5 feet tall and weigh between 60-140 pounds.
Their key characteristics are sleek black fur, a yellow crescent-shaped breast mark, and a greyish or orange muzzle. Some say, the sun bear was the inspiration for the character Winnie the Pooh.
These particular bears you are watching on the Sun Bear cam sponsored by Taiwan, The Heart of Asia, love to eat avocados, honey, and peanut butter as treats. ZooKeepers hide treats throughout the spacious exhibit, to encourage the bears to forage for food, as they would in the wild. You might see them playing with a ball, shaking a milk carton, or unwrapping boxes. ZooKeepers and volunteers create enrichment or puzzles to keep the bears stimulated throughout the day.
GEOGRAPHICAL RANGE AND HABITAT
Asia, Burma through Southeast Asia, Malay Peninsula, Sumatra and Borneo. May reach northern China and northeastern India. Dense tropical and subtropical forests at lower elevations.
Omnivorous, using front paws for most of feeding activity. Trees are torn open in search of wild bee nests and for insects and their larvae. Also eat rodents, lizards, small birds, fruit, soft growing parts of palm trees and honey.
LIFE CYCLE/SOCIAL STRUCTURE
Possibly no regular breeding season. Bears often sighted in pairs, leading to notion that they may be monogamous. Sexual maturity reached between 3 and 5 years of age. Mating occurs any time during the year. Litter of two blind, helpless 10-ounce cubs born on forest floor after a gestation of about three and a half months (not believed to have delayed implantation). Cubs walk at 2 months and are weaned at 4 months, but remain with mother for 2 years, learning to survive. Lifespan of 25 years.
Arboreal, nocturnal. Sleep and sun bathe in tree nests formed of bent branches (often as high as 23 feet off the ground). Huge claws aid in climbing and manipulating food items and are probably used in defense as well. Unusually long tongue is used in slurping up insects. Bare soles also aid climbing.
Also called "honey bear". Malayan name, basindo nan tenggil, means "he who likes to sit high". The pigeon-toed gait signals that this animal is arboreal. Chest markings are variable and may even be completely lacking, but the name "sun bear" may be due to the crescent shape usually present, likened to a rising or setting sun. If caught by large predator, can turn in its loose skin and bite attacker.