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The name’s Sean… Sean Bear.

Media Release 4 February 2005

The name’s Sean… Sean Bear.

Life smells sweeter by the day to Wellington Zoo’s new Malayan sun bear, Sean who inches closer to his face-to-face introduction with mate-to-be Chomel.

Eight year old Sean arrived at Wellington Zoo from Perth Zoo at the end of September last year after a 7 hour flight before spending 30 days in quarantine then 4 more months in a separate enclosure at Wellington Zoo.

Zoo Keeper Mandy Richards comments “We need to put all new animals to the Zoo through a quarantine period to make sure they aren’t carrying any foreign illnesses that could harm other Zoo animals, Sean is no exception”.

“Sun bears need to be introduced gradually over a period of months so they have a chance to get used to each other.

“Chomel has only had contact with Sean through the mesh of their adjacent enclosures, but she often sits up in the trees smelling his scent; it’s really cute to watch”.

Today, Chomel and Sean will begin the next stage in their introduction process with the two bears doing a ‘house’ swap to experience the sights and smells of the other’s environment.

“By about 11am, Sean will be checking out Chomel’s enclosure and Chomel will no doubt be doing the same in Sean’s. It’ll be really interesting to see how they behave” says Mandy.

The bears will be rotated daily between enclosures until such time as they show signs of compatibility to live together in one enclosure.

“They’ll probably start spending time standing next to each other between the enclosures, then we’ll know they’re about ready to move in together” says Mandy.

Inhabitants of South East Asia, sun bears are endangered in the wild due to deforestation, the pet trade and poaching for medical supplies such as bile farming.

Wellington Zoo is part of an international breeding programme aimed at preventing the extinction of sun bears and they intend to eventually breed with Sean and Chomel.

“Sun bears are very difficult to breed in captivity and Wellington Zoo has been the only Zoo in Australasia to breed cubs that have survived 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, Australia.

Either Sean or Chomel will be on display to Zoo visitors in the sun bear enclosure , but it won’t be until later this year that they will move in together and be on display at the same time.


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