KEEPERS at Edinburgh Zoo have prepared the perfect Halloween-themed enrichment for sun bear brothers Somnang and Rotana.
From bear-friendly pumpkins, to spooky coconuts bats, the bears will have plenty of treats in store this Halloween.
Senior carnivore keeper Sharon Hatton explained why enrichment is so important for these young brothers. She said: “These bears are very strong and playful, and they can be a quite destructive, so we are constantly finding new sources to keep them entertained and stimulated.
“We’ve taken inspiration from Halloween and carved some special bear-friendly pumpkins stuffed full of honey and peanuts. Somnang and Rotana love honey and their excellent sense of smell and long tongues are ideal for seeking it out.”
“We’ve also hung up coconuts bats which make great enrichment for our bears. Rotana has a bit more patience than his brother Somnang, hitting the coconut up off the ground, and then cracking it open with his long claws to get to the milk and flesh inside. Somnang will often take a bite once his brother has cracked the coconuts open.”
“Our sun bears’ diet consists of a lot of fruit and vegetables, including apple, pears, papaya, and sweet potato. They also get rice, insects, nuts and honey.”
Sun bears are the smallest members of the bear family and can be found in the tropical rainforests of South East Asia. They are named for the distinctive crescent-shaped patch of golden fur on their chests. These patches are unique to every sun bear, much like a person’s fingerprints are unique to them.
Sun bears are under threat from habitat destruction and the illegal wildlife trade. For this reason they are classed as ‘vulnerable’ on the IUCN Red List, meaning they face a high risk of extinction in the wild.
Brothers Rotana and Somnang were victims of the illegal pet trade. In 2004 the brothers were rescued by the charity Free the Bears.
The pumpkins, coconuts and nuts were all kindly donated by Sainsbury’s at Murrayfield.