Sun bears coming to new Paradise Wildlife Park habitat
PUBLISHED: 13:52 05 October 2020 | UPDATED: 14:29 05 October 2020
Paradise Wildlife Park
Adorable sun bears will feature in Paradise Wildlife Park’s next ground-breaking habitat at their World of Animals.
Following the official opening of the new Land of the Tigers over the weekend, keepers at the Hertfordshire zoo have announced their next project – Sun Bear Heights.
Set to open next summer, this is going to be an exciting and ambitious wildlife exhibit.
The project will see two new species arrive at the White Stubbs Lane site.
Sun bears will share the habitat with binturongs and Asian short-clawed otters in a Malaysian mixed enclosure that will be the first of its kind in the UK.
As seen on BBC’s Bears About The House with conservationist Giles Clark this summer, sun bears live in the dense jungles of Malaysia and are known for spending a lot of time in the tops of trees.
They have a beautiful and unique golden marking across their chest, which is where they get their name from.
Sun bears are the smallest species of bear, standing only four feet on their hind legs.
Unfortunately they are under severe threat due to the bear bile farm trade in Asia.
Bear bile farming is an illegal trade that sadly has devastated sun bears, moon bears and brown bears across Asia and parts of Europe.
Bears are taken from the wild and held in tiny cages off the ground that they can barely turn around in.
The bears then have the bile from their gall bladders extracted in horrific ways, which is then used in traditional Asian medicines, none of which are scientifically proven.
It is believed that there could still be as many as 20,000 sun bears, moon bears and brown bears being kept in illegal bear bile farms today.
Paradise Wildlife Park has ties with Free the Bears, a bear conservation charity that keeps Asian bears, including sun bears, safe in sanctuaries.
The Big Cat Sanctuary, PWP’s sister site based in Kent, and its director of Big Cats and Conservation, Giles Clark, was recently aiding Free the Bears in their work to save bears.
You can see this on Bears About The House on BBC Two.
Giles said: “It’s amazing to have sun bears at Paradise Wildlife Park.
“Free the Bears will be able to advise and assist where they can to help Paradise give the best habitat for their new sun bears.
“It’s an incredible chance to raise some much-needed awareness for bears and the atrocious bear bile farms.”
The new habitat is designed to educate visitors about the problems facing the bears in particular, and will even feature a section that will have bear bile cages for people to climb into.
It will also give visitors the amazing opportunity to view the bears at the heights of the treetops where they spend most of their time.
There will be a treetop walkway and café so visitors can relax with a drink whilst taking in these incredible species.
Sun Bear Heights at the Broxbourne-based zoo will actually be home to three species in a truly unique Malaysian mixed exhibit.
Paradise’s Asian short-clawed otters will be given access into the new area that will also house the park’s second new species for 2021 – binturongs.
Binturongs are also known as ‘bear cats’, despite not actually being related to bears or cats.
They are unusual looking mammals that are actually related civets and fossas. They also have a distinct scent that happens to smell like popcorn.
Asian short-clawed otters are the world’s smallest otters and just like the binturongs and sun bears, they are a vulnerable species that are under threat of becoming endangered.
Sun Bear Heights will be situated next to the new Land of the Tigers.
From a welfare perspective, it has everything needed to provide the species with the best welfare possible.
The sun bears and binturongs will have numerous climbing frames throughout the three outside areas, plus a large on show den that again will provide them with plenty to climb and lots of natural enrichment.
There will be a nice pool for the otters to splash around in, and also off show dens for the animals to enjoy some time away from the public should they choose to.
The exhibit is also designed so that each of the species can get some space from each other if they want it.
One of the dens is even a specially designed birthing den for the sun bears as Paradise keepers are hoping the bears will breed to help with the international breeding programme for the species.
For more on the wildlife park, and to book tickets, visit www.pwpark.com
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