Pair were found living as mistreated pets before being brought to the zoo and having their lives transformed – sun bears are among the rarest species of bears in the world. Tony McDonough reports
Two sun bears called Milli and Toni who were rescued from Cambodia after their mothers were killed by poachers are being given a new home within Chester Zoo.
The pair were found living as mistreated pets before being brought to the zoo and having their lives transformed. Sun bears are among the rarest species of bears in the world.
Now the zoo has moved Milli and Toni into its £40m Islands zone – already the largest zoological development in the UK – which features animal species native to South East Asia.
New habitats for Malayan tapirs and Asian songbirds have also been created in the zone.
Milli and Toni’s new area features lush trees for them to climb and forage for food, a stream and behind the scenes area for cubs.
The new Malayan tapir exhibit, features both outdoor and indoor pools while offering viewing opportunities for visitors to enjoy a unique perspective of the animals.
The spectacular new indoor and outdoor area for visitors includes a stunning walkthrough bird aviary, filled with bird song, dense planting, streams and waterfalls as birds fly freely.
It brings together a whole host of Asian songbirds such as Asian fairy-bluebirds, Sumatran laughing thrush and the critically endangered Javan green magpie – all being pushed closer to extinction as a result of the illegal wildlife trade.
It is the first time the Javan green magpie – one of the world’s most endangered species – has gone one display to the public anywhere in the world.
The zoo initially brought six pairs into its breeding programme in 2015 in a last gasp attempt to save the species from extinction in the wild, a young pair bred at the zoo will be taking up residence in the new aviary.
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.”