This is a first - in the last 24 hours, The BBC, Times in London, and the New York Times have all contacted me about - wait for it - a man in a bear suit?! I can verify it IS in fact a bear.
The Sun bear in question is a tropical bear - the smallest of 8 bear species and similar in size to a big dog, growing to around 100 pounds / 30,40,50 kilos and up to 4 or 5 feet tall.
Originating from Southeast Asia they are really good climbers, dextrous & incredibly strong for their size. They can climb a tree as easily as you walk down the street - they do this to find and eat fruits. And they, like all bears, are really intelligent.
(Standing sun bear photo courtesy Wong Siew Te)
STANDING question: Bears are plantigrade like us (not digitigrade, like say wolves and cats) and walk on the flats of their feet. Their back paws even look like a human foot - the tracks too! All bears can do this - some of them a lot! From the biggest grizzly brown bears I’ve seen in Alaska, to the smallest sun bear...it allows them to SEE, smell, find food, identify a threat.
AND - Makes them look human! Even as cubs.
FOLDS OF SKIN question: Imagine living where there are big carnivores out to eat you, including tigers, leopards. You would need this extra protection, as well as the flexibility it allows to bend and move, especially when on all fours.
"HUMAN-LIKE" behavior question:
I’ve seen VERY human-like bears elsewhere. Peruvian Spectacled cliff climbing bears like those seen in our film BEARTREK, as well as black bears walking down the street upright in a very human like stance. Enough so that you would have to look twice.
(Standing Alaska brown bear photo courtesy Brenda Phillips Photography)
(Spectacled bear climbing photo below courtesy BEARTREK/Wildlife Media)
Sun bears are incredibly well adapted creatures - made for their dense wild rainforest home. It’s surprising to me that we’re surprised by their incredible physical abilities - do you think the bears are amazed when they see us down on all fours?!
Here's a fun clip of a Sun bear cub, an excerpt from BEARTREK. A memory I'll never forget as I accompany my friend Wong Siew Te (featured in BEARTREK and founder of The Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre (BSBCC) as he releases a cub the center rescued and rehabilitated from the pet trade. Just watch how agile - and happy - they are in their home habitat!
Although many people online seem to believe otherwise, it is not in fact a man in a bear suit. However, relating to bears as humans is hopefully something that will help save them wherever they are! Especially IN THE WILD!!
They need our help - so every bit of attention is important! Let's keep this conversation going, even after the internet question of the day moves on...it's what I strive for every single day.