Is Angela the bear fur real?

Was the sun bear standing up a zoo in eastern China was a real sun bear – or actually someone dressed as a bear? 

It all started when Malayan sun bear Angela was standing on her hind legs at the Hangzhou Zoo, and footage appeared on Douyin which is social media site.  

Some people thought the bear was actually somebody in a bear suit, because it was standing upright like a human, and the folds of fur which a sun bear has, was very much like clothing.  Not only that, the bear appeared to be waving to visitors at certain angles.

Anyway, the video of Angela has been viewed many, many times – and the numbers of people going to the zoo has gone up 30% since it was put online, mostly because people want to see Angela for themselves.  Angela has put some information online herself (well, she probably dictated it…) about sun bears to give us all a chance to find out more about this very special bear species.

Find out about sun bears!

Sun bears are the smallest of the 8 species of bear in the wild – they stand at about 4 feet tall when they are on their hind legs.  Sun bears are endangered, and they come from the South East Asian rainforests.  They are in countries such as India, Cambodia, Vietnam, Sumatra and Borneo. They have huge claws for the purpose of climbing and skin folds.  And they have very long tongues to help them feast on termites and honey.

Sun bears can stand upright

The bear is a real bear. UK based Paradise Wildlife Park put a video up to show a sun bear’s natural behaviour, standing on back legs. (They’ve also got a video of a sun bear engaged with a green ball covered in peanut butter.)  

Could Angela the sun bear be an ambassador for her species?

When the news of Angela hit the spotlight, it seemed like a great opportunity to raise awareness of sun bears as a species and what is being done to try to help them in the wild. 

For sun bears in the wild face threats that could drive them to extinction.  They are listed as vulnerable by the IUCN's Red List of Threatened Species.  Threats facing sun bears are:

  • Habitat loss as their forest home is destroyed - South East Asia is losing its rainforests rapidly because of logging - both legal and illegal - and forest fires and destruction for palm oil plantations and road building
  • Hunting for bear body parts - bear bile and bear paws are believed to have medicinal properties.  Many bears rescued by bear charities were captive for their bear bile, for instance
  • A demand from the pet trade
  • Conflict with people, espeically as forests are reduced and humans take over wildlife territory.  There's less food for the bears, for instance. 

The other problem is that many people don't know about the sun bear species so they are unaware that sun bears exist. Could Angela be the ambassador sun bears need to raise awareness that they exist, for a start, and to raise awareness of their plight and how people can help?

The Plan has five goals and I quote from the plan:

  1. Eliminate illegal exploitation of sun bears.
  2. Protect and restore sun bear habitats and populations across the species' natural range.
  3. Devise and employ methods to reliably monitor trends in sun bear populations.
  4. Maximise the contribution of ex situ sun bear populations to conservation.
  5. Increase cross-sectoral support and collaboration for sun bear conservation.

Charities helping sun bears include:

The Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre is a sun bear rescue and rehabilitation centre in Sabah, Malaysian Borneo.   They have just taken in their 69th bear!  Follow them on Facebook, Twitter & Instagram.

Free the Bears rescues captive sun and moon bears and cares for them in bear sanctuaries in Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam.  Many bears were  captive for their bear bile or entertainment.  You can be a bear carer or adopt a bear, or send the bears a gift such as honey.  Follow them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. 

Wildlife rangers rescued Tenom and took him to BSBCC. The coffee brand decided to adopt orphaned sun bear Tenom to help with her rehab as part of BSBCC’s Adopt a Sun Bear campaign.  Why not adopt a sun bear yourself? 

How about a volunteer holiday?

Responsible Travel list a Sun Bear Volunteering Holiday in Borneo!  The centre is home to about 30 sun bears - what a great way to get involved!