Taronga’s Carnivore Keepers are delighted that the Zoo’s two Sun Bears Mr. Hobbs and Victoria are settling into their new temporary home at the Kodiak Bear exhibit, just opposite the female elephant barn.
In a carnivore shuffle to ungrade Taronga’s Snow Leopard exhibit, the Keepers have successful moved some the Zoo’s most endangered and intelligent animals.
The Malayan Sun Bears are timing sharing their temporay home with the grand old dame of the Zoo, 33 year old Bethyl the Kodiak Bear, while the the Snow Leopards have moved in to Sun Bears’ home during the renovations.
The two different bear species won’t be in the exhibit at the same time, but will take it in turns to use it, both spending a little extra time in their heated dens over winter.
Instead of watching the Asian bears from a cave-themed viewing window, visitors for the first time will see them in an open-style exhibit.
Keepers had been preparing the exhibit for many weeks making it ‘Sun Bear proof’, as they are arboreal, more inquisitive and destructive then the Zoo’s very senior Kodiak Bear. To help ready Victoria and Mr. Hobbs for the relocation, their Keepers encouraged them to investigate Bethyl’s dens while she was in the exhibit, slowly introducing them to their temporary home so that they could get used to the new environment and its smells.
As any new experience is always treated with suspicion, it was a little daunting for the Sun Bears when they first ventured out doors to explore Bethyl’s exhibit.
Victoria has been the most inquisitive helped by some reassuring words from her favourite Keepers. She hascarefully explored much of her new surroundings. She tapped on logs, an instinctive behaviour that gives them a better idea of what may be hiding inside, such as termites, a Sun Bear’s favourite snack. She was then off to climb a tree and forage amongst the grasses, leaf-litter, cave and boulders.
The big muscular male, Mr. Hobbs, decided to watch from the safety of the den only venturing out to the den ledge. This was expected as moving house is a big thing to adjust to. Mr. Hobbs is taking a little longer to get used to his new home, but his Keepers are very confident that both bears will enjoy the change of scenery and new challenges.
Victoria Mr Hobbs were both rescued by an Australian businessman from outside a Cambodian restaurant some years ago and the Zoo was able to give them a permanent home. Sun Bears are endangered and suffer from extreme habitat loss, as well as being exploited for bear products including bear bile used in traditional medicine.