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Rare bear breeding success

October 12 2006

Rare bear breeding success

The birth of a Malayan sun bear at Wellington Zoo three weeks ago proves that an unusual operation on the Zoo's male sun bear, Sean, has been successful, General Manager, Operations, Mauritz Basson announced today.

'Sun bear cubs are extremely fragile and notoriously difficult to breed. We are cautiously optimistic that the cub, who is just three weeks old, will survive. At present we are the only zoo in Australasia that has successfully bred sun bears so this cub is very exciting news for us and for the region," Mauritz said.

'The cub is in the den with Chomel, our female sun bear, and won't be on display to visitors for about another two to three months, fingers crossed that everything goes well. We are doing everything we can to ensure the cub's survival but we have to remain hands off.'

'A few months ago, Sean's keepers noticed that he was having problems urinating and mating. He was trained to present his penis to our medical team so they could examine him and they discovered that his penis could not fully extend.'

'In February, with the assistance of a surgical team from Massey University, we operated on Sean's penis. After the operation Sean and Chomel were seen mating. And with the arrival of a new sun bear cub, we have proof that the operation was a success.'

'Sean was rescued from a restaurant in Cambodia by Free the Bears and came to us from Perth Zoo, because of our previous success with breeding sun bears.'

Malayan sun bears are the smallest of eight bear species and are called sun bears due to the yellow patch on their chests that looks like the rising sun.

Sun bears are endangered. Their numbers in the wild are declining due to forest destruction, the pet trade, poaching for meat and medicinal use of organs

Note to editors: There will be no opportunity to take photos or footage of the new bear cub until the cub goes on display which will not be for two to three months. Sean is still in his enclosure on display.

ENDS

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