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Jakarta Post

A sanctuary of sun bears

  • Dina Indrasafitri

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Tue, August 2 2011   /  08:00 am

Around five o’clock in the afternoon in the Samboja Lestari project area in East Kalimantan usually means happy time for the sun bears (Helarctos malayanus) living in the area’s sanctuary — it is feeding time.

The smallest of the bear species, sun bears are distinguished by the yellow, crescent-shaped marks on their chests. The bears at the sanctuary wandered amid logs, stumps and ponds in July’s afternoon sun to find slices of pumpkins and pineapples placed by the keepers.

At times, the bears are aggressive toward each other: barking and baring their teeth, brandishing sharp claws and engaging in short duels.

Some of the bears are in cages, lapping up soy milk and gazing curiously at visitors. A cub in a cage anxiously makes suckling noises.

“We call them sun bears because they have the [yellow] mark and in the middle of the mark is a black spot...