New arrivals settle in at Colchester Zoo

Two Sun Bears are settling into their new home at Colchester Zoo.

The bears - Srey-Ya the female and Jo-Jo the male - were originally rescued in Cambodia and brought to the UK by the Rare Species Conservation Centre .

Srey-Ya means “girl” and was found as a cub at the village of Ya Dow in central Cambodia weighing about 300 grams.  She was so young she was still not fully covered in fur and hadn’t yet opened her eyes.  She was suffering from pneumonia and her mother was dead but miraculously she pulled through.  

Jo-Jo was confiscated in Ratanakiri province in north eastern Cambodia when he was only 6 months old.  He was being kept as a pet in a local bar to amuse visitors but fortunately he was rescued and came to the RSCC from Cambodia in late December 2007.  Together they were the first sun bears to be housed in Britain for over 30 years.  Today, they are the only sun bears in England.

At just 4 feet high, sun or honey bears as they are also known are the world’s smallest species of bear and classified as Vulnerable in the wild.  The two bears are now settling into a temporary enclosure whilst Colchester Zoo begins a fundraising campaign to build a new £375,000, purpose built enclosure for them.

Anthony Tropeano, Colchester Zoo’s Zoological Director said: “Both bears have had such a traumatic start to their lives; I’m delighted that Colchester Zoo has been able to offer them a permanent home.  Srey-Ya and Jo-Jo had a good journey from Kent and we’re pleased how well they are already settling into their enclosure.  We are already planning a new bear facility which we estimate is likely to cost around £375,000.  We are appealing to visitors and potential sponsors to assist us in raising the funds necessary to get this new complex underway."

The sun bears can now be seen by visitors to the zoo in their temporary enclosure located close to the entrance.