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All the hope of Burgers’ Zoo is focused on a sun bear boar from Edinburgh, Scotland, to provide the European breeding programme with the necessary cubs
Arnhem, 29 November 2018 – The biologists and zookeepers of Royal Burgers’ Zoo are looking forward to the incoming transport of a male sun bear on Friday 30 November 2018. All hope is on this sun bear boar from Edinburgh Zoo, Scotland, and the two Arnhem she-bears to jointly provide the European breeding programme with the much-needed growth of the species.
Royal Burgers’ Zoo has all the required facilities: a spacious outdoor area, several heated indoor enclosures (both open to public and private) and a specially designed birthing room for the sun bears. Still, it won’t be easy. A fertility study done by German specialists from IZW Berlin (Institut für Zoo- und Wildtierforschung) on 12 January 2018 showed that one of the bears is almost infertile. The other female has about fifty per cent chance of a successful pregnancy. Age plays a role in this: both females are over 18 years old.
A European challenge
The studbook data of the European Breeding programme for sun bears show that there is a total of 39 sun bears living in European zoos that are members of EAZA (European Association of Zoos and Aquaria): 13 boars and 26 she-bears. The average age of the sun bear population in Europe is quite high, and there is, therefore, a clear surplus of females. The European breeding programmes are very successful for most species, but this is unfortunately not the case for the sun bears.
The hope is that the arrival of the sun bear boar will have a stimulating effect on the hormone balance of the she-bears. Both she-bears came to Burgers’ Zoo from the zoo in Cologne, Germany, on 22 April 2018 and are over 18 years old. The boar from Scotland is 15 years old. If, in time, it turns out that the presence of the new boar does not bear fruit, exchanging the she-bears for a younger she-bear might be considered. However, this decision is up to the coordinator of the breeding programme and still lies far ahead.