Paradise Wildlife Park is so excited to announce the next ground breaking habitat at their World of Animals.
Introducing: Sun Bear Heights! This is going to be an exciting and ambitious wildlife exhibit that will be opening at Paradise Wildlife Park in summer 2021.
The project will see sun bears sharing the habitat with binturong and Asian short clawed otters in a Malaysian mixed exhibit that will be the first of its kind in the UK. Sun Bears live in the dense jungles of Malaysia and are known for spending a lot of time in the tops of trees. They have a beautiful and unique golden marking across their chest which is what they get their name for. Sun bears are also the smallest species of bear, standing only four feet on their hind legs!
The area will actually be home to three species in a truly unique Malaysian mixed exhibit. Our Asian short clawed otters will be given access into the new area that will also house our second new species; Binturongs! Binturongs, which are also known as ‘bear cats’ despite not actually being related to bears or cats. They are unusual looking mammals that are actually related civets and fossas! They also have a distinct scent that happens to smell like popcorn.
Asian short clawed otters are the world’s smallest otters and just like the binturongs and sun bears, they are a vulnerable species that are under threat of becoming endangered.
Sun Bears are unfortunately under severe threat due to the bear bile farm trade in Asia. Bear bile farming is an illegal trade that sadly has devasted sun bears, moon bears and brown bears across Asia and parts of Europe. Bears are taken from the wild and held in tiny cages off of the ground that they can barely turn around in. The bears then have the bile from their gall bladders extracted in horrific ways which is then used in traditional Asian medicines, none of which are scientifically proven. It is believed that there could still be as many as 20,000 sun bears, moon bears and brown bears being kept in illegal bear bile farms today.
We have brilliant ties with Free the Bears, a bear conservation charity that keeps Asian bears, including sun bears safe in sanctuaries. The Big Cat Sanctuary is our sister site based in Kent and its Director of Big Cats and Conservation, Giles Clark was recently aiding Free the Bears in their work to save bears. You can see this on ‘Bears About the House’ on BBC 2. Giles says: “Its amazing to have sun bears at Paradise Wildlife Park. Free the Bears will be able to advise and assist where they can to help Paradise give the best habitat for their new sun bears. Its an incredible chance to raise some much needed awareness for bears and the atrocious bear bile farms”
The habitat is designed to educate visitors about the problems facing the bears in particular and will even feature a section that will have bear bile cages for people to climb into. It will also give visitors the amazing opportunity to view the bears at the heights of the treetops where they spend most of their time with a unique treetop walkway and café so visitors can relax with a drink whilst taking in these incredible species.
From a welfare perspective, it has everything needed to provide them with the best welfare possible! The bears and binturongs will have numerous climbing frames throughout the three outside areas, plus a large on show den that again will provide them with plenty to climb and lots of natural enrichment. There will be a nice pool to the otters to splash around in, and also off show dens for the animals to enjoy some time away from the public should they choose too.
The exhibit is also designed so each of the species can get some space from each other if they should they want it. One of the dens is even a specially designed birthing den for the sun bears as Paradise are hoping the bears will breed to help with the international breeding programme for the species.
From a conservation perspective, each of the species living in this exhibit are classed a vulnerable with the sad reality that they could become endangered if more is not done to educate the public about them and fund key conservation efforts to help protect them.
Paradise Wildlife Park is committed to supporting sun bear conservation and will be raising funds through different events they hold based around the bears each year to go toward to efforts of well-established conservation charities. The park also aims to solidify a conservation partnership with bear conservation charities that work in Malaysia.
Get excited to welcome the sun bears, binturongs and otters into their new home for summer 2021.