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Malayan sun bear

Helarctos malayanus


There are eight species of bear in the world and Malayan sun bears are the smallest members of the family.

This bear’s common name comes from the white/yellow crescent marking on the chest, which has been compared to the shape of a rising or setting sun. Each bear’s crest is individual, like a human’s fingerprints. In the Malay language, the bear is called ‘basindo nan tenggil’, which means “he who likes to sit high”. The sun bear is an agile climber and makes its home in the trees.

Belfast Zoo is home to two Malayan sun bears, Indera and Bora. Our pair live at the very top of our Cave Hill site, with some of the best views across Belfast Lough.

Animal class

Mammal

Conservation status

The IUCN considers the Malayan sun bear to be facing a high risk of extinction in the wild. The species is listed under Appendix I of CITES.

Habitat

Rainforest

Population

There are no estimates to show how many of these bears live in the wild. Due to increasing deforestation, however, experts believe that the population is almost certainly declining.

Diet

Omnivore. Malayan sun bears eat insects, fruit, honey and small to large prey animals.