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