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Sun Bears

  • Order: Carnivora
  • Family: Ursidae
  • Genus: Helarctos
  • Species: malayanus
Fun Fact

According to legend, sun bears get their name from the golden U-shape or crescent found on their chest which represents the rising sun.  

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About Sun Bears

The sun bear is the smallest species of bear in the world, only growing to four or five feet long. They have a short, glossy brown coat with a distinct, golden U-shape marking on their chest. Sun bears have large, curved claws which help them climb trees and break logs in search of food. They also have an extremely long tongue, up to 25 centimeters long, which allows them to extract difficult-to-reach food including grubs and honey.

Sun bears have flat heads, tiny ears and walk with their paws turned inward which sets them apart from other bears. They are solitary animals, meaning they live primarily on their own with the exception of mating and giving birth. Sun bears can also live to over 25 years old.

Sun Bears in the Wild


Sun bears live in tropical forests and spend most of their time high in the trees. They build nests in trees to sleep and are the only species of bear that lives in the jungle.


Sun bears are native to areas in Southeast Asia, including Bangladesh, Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia and Malaysia.


Although sun bears are technically classified as carnivores, they are primarily omnivores who feed on fruits, nuts, ants, termites, beetle and bee larvae and honey. Sun bears only eat small animals when plant matter is scarce.

Population Status

According to the ICUN Red List, sun bears are considered a vulnerable species. Habitat loss and commercial hunting are the two main threats to sun bears and the cause for their decline.