Our sun bears are a real treat to see. With declining populations in South East Asia, sun bears are one of the world's rarest species of bear.

They may be one of the smallest types of bears, but they're certainly impressive animals when you see them up close. They get their name from the golden markings on their chest which look like a rising sun. They’re also known as the ‘honey bear’ due to their love of honey.

We have two bears – a female named Milli and a male called Toni who arrived in October 2015 from the Rare Species Conservation Centre in Kent. They're the first sun bears to live at the zoo since 1976.

The pair were rescued as cubs by conservationists working in Cambodia after their mothers were killed by poachers and they were found as mistreated pets, before moving to the UK in October 2013.

Sun bears have very powerful jaws, that can tear open trees in search of insects to eat, as well as big paws with large claws and hairless soles that help them to climb.

Their numbers in the wild are rapidly declining as a result of deforestation and poaching but we hope that with Milli and Toni acting as fine ambassadors for the species, they’ll also help us to highlight the vital research and conservation efforts needed to protect the species in the wild.

A combination of large-scale deforestation, legal and illegal logging and the conversion of natural forests to palm oil plantations has led to sun bears being classified as vulnerable to extinction by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The species also suffers from illegal wildlife trade, with sun bears used in traditional Asian medicines – although scientific evidence has shown they have no medicinal value.

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Interesting facts

Where they live: South East Asia - Brunei, Burma, Cambodia, India, Laos, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam and the Indonesian islands of Sumatra and Borneo. Now extinct in Singapore and Yunna, where they were once found in large numbers.
Habitat: Rainforest, montane forests
Size: Up to 1.5 meters long
Weight: Up to 75kg
Threats: Deforestation, logging and poaching for traditional Asian medicines.