Changing Planet

Tiny Sun Bears Introduced to Public in San Diego

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Making a public debut at San Diego Zoo today were these two sun bear cubs, Pagi and Palu.

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The 5-month-old twins are only the third Bornean sun bear litter to be born in North America, all of which have occurred at the San Diego Zoo, the zoo said in a caption accompanying this photo. Zoo researchers are studying reproductive biology and maternal care of the sun bear.

Visitors to the San Diego Zoo can learn more about these cubs during Zoo Discovery Days: Bear Bonanza March 19-22. The four-day event showcases the six species of bears at the Zoo: brown bear, giant panda, polar bear, sun bear, sloth bear and Andean bear.

The smallest member of the bear family (they grow to only about half the size of an American black bear), the reclusive sun bear’s native habitat is the dense lowland forests of Southeast Asia. They take their name from the golden bib-shape patch on their chest, which legend says represents the rising sun.

The sun bear has been classified as vulnerable by the World Conservation Union (IUCN), meaning the species faces a “high risk of extinction in the wild.” The two major threats to the species are habitat loss and commercial hunting, IUCN says.

Photo taken March 16, 2009, by Tammy Spratt, San Diego Zoo.

National Geographic News Photo Gallery: Most Endangered Bears Ranked.

Wildlife Direct Blog: Bornean Sun Bear Conservation

Forty years in U.S., UK, and South African media gives David Braun global perspective and experience across multiple storytelling platforms. His coverage of science, nature, politics, and technology has been published/broadcast by the BBC, CNN, NPR, AP, UPI, National Geographic, TechWeb, De Telegraaf, Travel World, and Argus South African Newspapers. He has published two books and won several journalism awards. He has 120,000 followers on social media. David Braun edits the National Geographic Society blog, hosting a global discussion on issues resonating with the Society's mission and initiatives. He also directs the Society side of the Fulbright-National Geographic Digital Storytelling Fellowship, awarded to Americans seeking the opportunity to spend nine months abroad, engaging local communities and sharing stories from the field with a global audience. Follow David on Facebook  Twitter  LinkedIn

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