In a press conference this morning, Mayor Kirk Caldwell and Honolulu Zoo director Linda Santos announced the reopening of the Malay sun bear exhibit.

The exhibit was closed for renovations, including a refurbished cave, improvements to the climbing structure, and general landscaping to provide sun bears Juwita (female, 24 years old) and Blackie (male, 23 years old) with a more comfortable living facility. A new viewing glass for visitors was also built.

Sun bears are found in the tropical forest habitats of Southeast Asia. They are usually jet black with light colored muzzles and cream colored, sickle-shaped claws. Sun bear adults, on average weighing less than 200 pounds, are the smallest of the bear species. They are omnivores and use their exceptionally long tongues to feed on insects, honey and fruits. The tropical regions where they are found provide sun bears year-round availability of food, so they do not hibernate. Sun bears are listed as vulnerable on the IUCN Red List, with a global population in decline primarily due to large-scale deforestation throughout Southeast Asia over the past three decades.

“This newly renovated exhibit gives us all a chance to see these unique mammals in a space where they can thrive and play,” said Mayor Caldwell. “Unfortunately, sun bears are losing their natural habitats in Southeast Asia due to deforestation. This exhibit provides an opportunity to educate the public about the importance of conservation and how we can help protect this amazing species.”

The sun bear exhibit at the Honolulu Zoo is adjacent to the Ectotherm Complex, behind the Japanese giant salamander exhibit.