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Rare Birth of Sun Bear in Sumatra, Indonesia

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Published on Aug 30, 2010

Five year-old sun bear Ayu gave birth on Monday to the first sun bear born in captivity in the park.

The cub's father is a three and a half year-old sun bear named Alex.

[Syefri Zaldi, Zookeeper]:
"We have not given the baby a name, as the gender is still unknown. Ayu is very protective."

With this addition, it brings the total sun bear population at the park to four.

Conservationists said the sun bear, the smallest of the bear family, may become extinct much sooner than originally feared.

Also known as the honey bear for its reputed love of sweet food, the sun bear is the least known and one of the most endangered.

The sun bear, whose natural habitat stretches from India to Indonesia, has been classified as vulnerable by the Geneva-based World Conservation Union (IUCN).
The group estimates there are little more than 10,000 sun bears left.

The bear, which weighs between 90 and 130 pounds, is hunted for its bitter, green bile, which has long been used by Chinese traditional medicine practitioners to treat eye, liver and other ailments. Bear paws are also consumed as a delicacy.

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