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Zoo location: 
Scientific Name: 
Helarctos malayanus
Species class: 
Population Trend: 
Quick Facts

Lifespan: 25 years

Weight: 35-80kgs

Size: 1.2-1.5m tall and 70cm wide at shoulder

Fun Facts
  • Mary was only the second Sun Bear to be born in Australia and is named after Free the Bears Founder, Mary Hutton.
  • Mr Hobbs’ name was from the movie “Mr. Hobbs takes a Vacation” starring James Stewart.
  • Their sleek, black coat is short to avoid overheating in the tropical weather
  • Other names used include Honey Bear, Dog-Face Bear and Malay Bear
  • Their 25cm long tongue is perfect for licking up insects and wild honey from tree hollows.  
Distribution Map: 

Sun Bear

Taronga has made a centenary commitment to the long-term support of this species. Donate or find out more about how you can support our cause.

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At Taronga:

Taronga Zoo is home to 2 beautiful Sun Bears, Mary and Mr Hobbs. In 1995 Mr. Hobbs was born in a Cambodian forest and was taken from the wild and from his mother. He was rescued from a Cambodian restaurant by expatriate businessman, John Stevens who gave him to Mary Hutton from Free the Bears. In 1997 Mr Hobbs joined the Taronga family he had some behavioural issues as a result of his traumatic start to life. As he was taken from his mother as a cub, he never learnt how to behave like a real bear. Our Keepers work closely with Mr Hobbs, and will even brush his teeth with an electric toothbrush. This process is entirely voluntary and based on trust and positive reinforcement training.

Mary arrived at Taronga Zoo in 2012 from Canberra’s National Zoo. Her exceptionally high skill levels are due to her spending over two years learning from her mother, which she has shared and shown to Mr. Hobbs. Mary is playful and mischievous and is always active, regularly rearranging her exhibit, just the way she likes it. She can usually be seen climbing, digging, ripping logs apart, chasing and wrestling with Mr. Hobbs or relaxing in her hammock. Keeping up with Mary has brought a new lease on life to Mr Hobbs. She has taught him to be more adventurous. Since her arrival he is more active and tries harder to look for the behavioural enrichment items that the Keeper hide in his exhibit several times a day. 

In the future we hope this pair will contribute to the International Breeding Program for Sun Bears to help secure their future. 

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