The Sun Bear (Helarctos malayanus) is the smallest bear in existence measuring around 47-59 inches. These bears typically have short, sleek black fur with some under-wool but there are some sun bears that have reddish or grey fur. The paws are large and naked, and the claws are curved and long which indicates adaptation for extensive climbing.
The Sun Bear resides in the tropical forests of Southeast Asia ranging from north-eastern India and the Yunnan province of China to the Indonesian islands of Sumatra and Borneo. These animals are constantly being threatened by deforestation and forest fires, decreasing the population of Sun Bears by around 30% over the past 3 bear generations. One of the other main threats against these bears are poachers. Poachers target these bears for the bear bile trade in Southeast Asia, where they keep the bears on bile farms and extract it for use in commodities such as cough drops, shampoo and soft drinks. They are one of the main 3 species of bear that are targeted for this trade.
With the Sun Bears living in tropical climates, they have no need to hibernate due to the yearlong food sources. The sun bears diet primarily consists of termites, ants, beetles, bees and a large variety of fruit. Bees, beehives and honey are also important food items to the sun bears, which explains why they are often referred to as ´honey bears´. They have a keen sense of smell which allows them to find food sources all year round. It has long sharp claws, which come in handy for tearing open trees where insect and bee nests can be found, and then this bear can slurp them up using an extra-long tongue!
The female sun bears mate at around 3 years of age and exhibit signs like hugging, play fighting and head bobbing with its mate. They commonly birth one to two cubs which are born blind and hairless and completely dependent on their mothers. After one to three months the cubs are seen to run, play and forage near their mothers.