Two sun bears once snatched by poachers in Cambodia just had their first cub at the Chester Zoo. It's the first sun bear born in the United Kingdom.
The cub's parents — mother Milli and father Toni — were taken from the wild when they were young by illegal wildlife traders who killed their mothers and kept them as pets.
The mistreated young bears were found and nursed back to health by conservationists in Cambodia. The pair eventually arrived at the Chester Zoo in 2013 and are now the proud parents of a healthy cub. The cub weighed 14 ounces (400 grams) when it was born on June 13.
"It’s very early days and the cub is still just tiny but we’re monitoring it closely on remote cameras and mum Milli is doing everything right so far — allowing the cub to feed several times a day and being ever so attentive," Tim Rowlands, curator of mammals, said in a statement. "All being well, it’s now likely she’ll keep her cub tucked away in her cubbing den for up to two months before the two of them begin to venture out."
🐻 UK's FIRST SUN BEAR BORN 🐻— Chester Zoo (@chesterzoo) June 29, 2018
After a tough start to life, these RESCUED bears have just had a baby... how amazing is this story?! 😍 pic.twitter.com/VrDucxlMgy
Found in southeast Asia, sun bears are the world's smallest bears. They are classified as vulnerable, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) with their population numbers decreasing. Sun bears are primarily threatened by deforestation and commercial hunting for the wildlife pet trade.
"The species is also exploited for its body parts, which are used in traditional Asian medicines — although there is no scientific evidence that they have medicinal value. This tragic and unnecessary combination of factors means they are now one of the world’s rarest bears," said Mike Jordan, the zoo's collections director.
According to the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), the sun bear population is believed to have fallen by more than 30 percent in the last 30 years.
Sun bears get their name from the yellowish crescent patch on their chest, which resembles the rising or setting sun. The species is also known as the honey bear for its love of honey.