Sun Bear Day

May 16

10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Join us at Zoo Atlanta as we shine the spotlight on the smallest bear for International Sun Bear Day!

  • Meet a member of the Carnivore Team during a special keeper chat to learn about the care these special animals receive.
  • Learn about sun bears through biofact exploration, games, and activities.
    • Test your puzzle-solving skills and see how you compare to Sabah and Xander, the sun bears at Zoo Atlanta.
    • Discover the special adaptations that help sun bears eat, climb, and more.
    • Practice being a sustainable shopper and learn how that helps sun bears in the wild.
  • Can’t make it to the Zoo? Check out Zoo Atlanta’s social media networks for a special International Sun Bear Day takeover.
  • Show you’re a conservation hero year-round with the purchase of an Animal Awareness Day tote bag!
    • Use provided fabric markers to decorate and make your bag unique.
    • All proceeds go to the Zoo’s conservation fund that allows us to help animals in the wild and their habitats.

Activities are free for Zoo Atlanta Members and children under 3; free with general admission. 

In the Wild …

Sun bears are the least-recognized, least-studied, and the smallest of the extant eight bear species. Their wild population numbers are unknown, but what is known is that their numbers are decreasing rapidly. The IUCN lists sun bears as Vulnerable; however, with no conclusive population studies, their status in the wild remains a mystery. Sun bears live throughout the southeast mainland of Asia down to the islands of Indonesia and Malaysia. Sun bears have been identified as an umbrella species, a keystone species, and an indicator species. Protecting sun bears also protects habitat for other endangered species. Sun bears keep insect populations in check, create habitats for other species, increase soil nutrients as they forage, and are important seed dispersers. The presence of sun bears provides important information about the ecosystem.

What’s the Issue?

Sun bears are dependent on forests. Unfortunately, much of their home range falls in two of the world’s leading palm oil-producing countries. Clear-cutting for palm oil plantations and logging have decimated the forests in Indonesia and Malaysia over the last two decades.

Additionally, sun bears are routinely poached to sell for the pet trade and body parts. Because sun bear cubs are small and cute, people often erroneously believe they are suitable pets. To capture cubs, their mothers are usually killed in the process. Even young cubs are destructive and end up in inappropriate living conditions because people cannot manage them in their homes. Bear bile is a popular remedy in traditional medicine in many cultures. Bears are killed or kept alive in terrible conditions to extract the bile from their gall bladders. Sun bear claws, paws, and heads are commonly sold as ornaments.

What’s the solution?

Shop sustainably! Use Cheyenne Mountain Zoo’s palm oil app when shopping to only purchase from companies that use sustainable (or no) palm oil in their products. Look for the Forest Stewardship Council logo when buying paper products. Avoid sharing videos of wildlife living in human homes or humans interacting with wildlife inappropriately. These videos perpetuate the false belief that wild animals make good pets.

Connect With Your Wild Side #onlyzooatl