Wellington Zoo Bears Delight in Introduction
Media Release 23 February 2005
Wellington Zoo Bears Delight in
Wellington Zoo’s two Malayan Sun Bears finally met face to face today after a 2 month process of gradual introduction.
Released together on public display in the Sun Bear enclosure, Wellington Zoo Keeper, Mandy Richards describes Sean and Chomel’s introduction as unforgettable.
“They ran up to each other and Chomel jumped on Sean’s back playing and biting the back of his neck, she seemed to be so content”.
Sean, on the other hand, seemed quite relaxed about the whole affair playing gently with Chomel and with hardly any signs of aggression.
Following 10 minutes of introduction off public display, the bears were given access to their usual enclosure where they have continued to play together.
The bears had been rotated between the cubbing area and the enclosure as part of their gradual introduction process and had lately been showing signs of compatibility to live together in the same enclosure.
“They have been spending a lot of time together in adjacent dens and have been communicating through the protective barrier by making ‘clicking’ noises to each other” comments Mandy.
However, while the bears have been showing signs of compatibility, Zoo Veterinarian, Katja Geschke outlines that it is to be expected that the bears will have to identify their place in the relationship which could potentially involve some rough interaction.
Inhabitants of South East Asia, sun bears are endangered in the wild due to deforestation, the pet trade and poaching for medical supplies through bile farming.
Rescued from Cambodia by Free the Bears, Sean lived at Perth Zoo before being transferred to Wellington Zoo to eventually become part of an international breeding programme aimed at preventing the extinction of sun bears.
“Sun Bears are very difficult to breed in captivity and Wellington Zoo has been the only Zoo in Australasia to breed and rear offspring to adulthood” says Mandy.
Chomel’s surviving cub Arataki (named after the honey company that sponsors the Sun Bears) was born in 1999 and now lives in the National Zoo in Canberra.
Visitors to the Zoo can now see Sean and Chomel together in the sun bear enclosure.