Born Free Foundation - Keep Wildlife in the Wild

Moon Bear

The Asiatic black bear is commonly called the moon bear because of a crescent shaped patch of yellow to orange fur on their chest. Every bear’s chest marking is unique.  They also have a pale muzzle but are black everywhere else. They have a stocky body and large ears compared to other bears, which are wide apart on their head.  The shaggy coat has a ruff of longer hairs around the neck.

These bears spend around half of their time in the trees, and will build platforms from branches and vegetation to rest and feed upon. They also make dens in hollow logs or caves. They have very powerful upper bodies and front legs for climbing the trees. 

They are solitary animals, apart from the strong mother and young bond, and tend to be active at dawn and dusk (this is called crepuscular). Females give birth to a litter of around two cubs in the safety of a winter den, often located within a tree hollow. Cubs are weaned by around six months of age but will stay with their mother until they are around two years old. Bears which live in the north often hibernate over the winter, whilst further to the south, bears will migrate to warmer areas during winter.

Moon bears stand upright more than other bears and have been known to walk upright for over a quarter of a mile.  They are highly intelligent and have a large vocabulary, making clucking sounds when playing, "tut-tut-tut" sounds when cautious and huffing sounds when warning or about to attack. The females are more vocal than the males. 



Moon bear numbers are declining. It is not known exactly how many moon bears remain in the wild but it is thought to be fewer than 16,000.  The main threats to their survival are deforestation and habitat loss due to humans. They are sometimes killed by farmers as they can take livestock or strip the bark from valuable timber trees. They are also hunted for their gall bladders and other body parts which are used in traditional medicine or eaten as a delicacy, which appears to be on the increase in China, Korea and Japan as prices rise for these items.  Without increased conservation efforts and reduced exploitation, they face a precarious future.

Males: Boar
Females: Sow
Max speed: 20-25 mph
Body length: 120-195cm
Body height: 70-100cm at the shoulder
Tail length: 11cm
Weight: Females 60-130kg males up to 220 kg
Age expectancy: 25-30 years
Diet: Vegetables, fruits, nuts, insects, small mammals, birds
Habitat: forests of hills and mountains
Found in: Southern Asia from Afghanistan to Taiwan, northeastern China, far eastern Russia and Japan.
Born Free Foundation
Broadlands Business Campus, Langhurstwood Road
, Horsham, RH12 4QP, UK - Charity Reg. No. 1070906

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