Mary the Malayan Sun Bear has made the move to Taronga Zoo, and is settling into new surroundings! The boisterous two and a half year old is now on display, and can be seen exploring her new territory as she gets acquainted with Taronga’s male Sun Bear, Mr. Hobbs.
Senior Carnivore Keeper Lesley Small describes Mary as a playful and inquisitive bear, who loves to spend time in the water, splashing about getting everything wet. When she’s not in the water, she’s usually climbing, digging, ripping logs apart, chasing and wrestling with Mr. Hobbs or relaxing in her hammock.
Moving from Canberra’s National Zoo and Aquarium, Mary has come to Taronga in order to play a special part in the Malayan Sun Bear breeding program. She’s been partnered Mr. Hobbs, an older bear that arrived at Taronga with the help of the Free the Bears Foundation after he was rescued from the restaurant trade in Cambodia.
Mary is the latest Sun Bear to be born in Australia, and at the age of two and a half she is still quite a young bear. Lesley suggests that moving in with Mr. Hobbs signals a natural rite of passage for the bear, as she will be leaving her mother’s side in order to start a family of her own. Mary will reach breeding age between 3 – 5 years.
If Mary and Mr. Hobbs produce cubs, they will play a key role in securing the species’ future by introducing a new genetic line in the Australian population of Malayan Sun Bears. This Southeast Asian species is very vulnerable, and faces a high risk of extinction in the wild due to logging, illegal wildlife and restaurant trade, and use in traditional medicine. International conservation programs are vital in maintaining the species, and if successful, the pairing of Mary and Mr. Hobbs will further support the efforts to build up the Malayan Sun Bear population.
If you’d like to come and see the pair as they get to know each other, visit their exhibit near the Taronga Food Market!