Baby Bear Returns to Zoo Eschews War for Law

Serey, the first sun bear to be born and survive in captivity in Cambodia, has moved from the Phnom Penh apartment where he was being hand-reared to the Phnom Tamao Zoo where he was born.

Now 4 months old, Serey has been living in a special cage for younger sun bears for the past week. The baby bear has learned to climb trees and is almost completely weaned off baby formula.

“He’s a good bear,” said Chun Vuthy, the bear keeper. “I like him because before in Cambodia you cannot see bears, but now there are many bears [for] everyone in Cambodia to see.”

According to Matt Jeffrey, director of operations for an NGO called Free the Bears, Serey is also quite valuable internationally and will be eligible for breeding programs overseas that aim to improve the genetic stock of the endangered animal. “A lot of the sun bears in captivity are quite old and inbred,” he said. “He’s new blood…and genetically valuable.”

Serey was born to Sarah and Dala, two sun bears rescued from the local restaurant trade, on Oct 21, just a month after Hope, the first baby sun bear born in captivity here. According to Jeffrey, conditions at the zoo were not suitable for raising the bear through its initial months and Hope was ripped apart by an adult bear who grabbed her through the cage bars.




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