Sun Bear

Chester Zoo in Cheshire has unveiled state-of-the-art habitats for sun bears, Malayan tapirs and Asian songbirds in its Islands zone, which features animal species native to South East Asia.

The new indoor and outdoor area for visitors includes a walkthrough bird aviary, an area for two sun bears from Cambodia, and a Malayan tapir exhibit featuring both outdoor and indoor pools.

The zoo’s two sun bears, Milli and Toni, were rescued from Cambodia. Their new area features trees for the bears to climb and forage for food, a stream and, behind the scenes, a state-of-the-art area for cubs.

A Malayan tapir exhibit features both outdoor and indoor pools while offering great viewing opportunities for visitors to enjoy an unhindered perspective of the animals.

The newly developed walkthrough bird aviary boasts streams and waterfalls. The freely flying birds include Asian songbirds such as fairy-bluebirds, Sumatran laughing thrush and the endangered Javan green magpie. Chester Zoo states that this is the first time this species of magpie has gone on display to the public anywhere in the world.

Mike Jordan, collections director at Chester Zoo, said: “Islands has really helped us raise the profile of some lesser known species here at the zoo and driven a huge interest towards animals that are often overlooked. We want to throw a spotlight on even more species and give visitors the opportunity to learn more and help make a difference too.

“Sun bears are one of the world’s rarest species of bear, songbirds across Asia are highly threatened by the illegal wildlife trade and Malayan tapirs often, like so many other species in South East Asia, fall victim to habitat loss.”

More about Islands

The new area continues the ‘always building’ philosophy of the zoo’s founder George Mottershead, 85 years after he created the UK’s first zoo without bars centred on animal wellbeing and conservation.

The zoo’s Islands habitat brings conservation to life through detailed recreations of areas in South East Asia, taking visitors on their own expedition, walking over bridges, travelling in boats and seeing buildings that are architecturally identical to those found on the islands of Panay, Papua, Sumba, Bali, Sumatra and Sulawesi.

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