Location (indicated in orange on the map): San Diego Zoo, at the base of Bear Canyon
Habitat/region featured: Southeast Asian rain forest
Size: 1.5 acres (0.6 hectares)
Opening date: June 30, 1989
Nearest dining facility: Canyon Café
Be sure to look for…
Sun Bear Forest
How to view
The energetic Bornean sun bears are great tree climbers.
Surrounded by the fantastic sights, sounds, and scents of the Asian tropical rain forest, you may forget the hectic jungle of the city for a moment. Welcome to Sun Bear Forest! Lose yourself in this forest in the city, where naturalistic enclosures and thousands of exotic plants combine to help animals and Zoo visitors alike experience life in an Asian forest.
In Sun Bear Forest, the upper canopy of a rain forest is formed by the spreading leaves and branches of palms and ficus trees. Bamboos and ginger create the mid-canopy, and a mix of ferns, shrubs, flowers, and ornamental grasses makes up the understory of our forest.
Bornean sun bears, the smallest bears in the world, are one of the most enjoyable animals to observe, especially in the natural setting of Sun Bear Forest. Here, the sun bears, named for the golden crescents on their chests, display their frolicsome nature. Extremely agile and often comical, sun bears are great tree climbers and make excellent use of their enclosure's climbing structures.
Lion-tailed macaques also live in Sun Bear Forest.
An Asian-themed aviary is home to fairy bluebirds and fruit doves. Other residents of Sun Bear Forest include Gabriella's crested gibbons, nocturnal binturongs (or bear cats), and lion-tailed macaques. The lively primates are fun to watch as they scamper along the logs and rope bridges of their large enclosure.
Sun Bear Forest has a spectacular collection of Asian plants, including a number of gingers, which are actually an extension of Fern Canyon’s gingers. While most people know about Zingiber officinale, the common cooking spice, many don’t realize that there are more than 85 species of ginger in the Zingiber genus alone. Look for the grandest of all the gingers: shell ginger Alpinia zerumbet. Native to east Asia, shell ginger has 2-foot-long (61-centimeter) leaves and shell-like flowers that grow together in beautiful pendant clusters in late summer.
- More than 2,500 gingers provide a pleasant fragrance for visitors strolling through Sun Bear Forest.
- Harp wire is used at the front of the aviary, allowing easy viewing of tropical birds.
- Sun Bear Forest offers an expansive grassy area, perfect to use as a resting area. During summer and school holidays you may find a fun attraction, such as a bunjee trampoline, for children to enjoy.
- On opening day of Sun Bear Forest, the troop of lion-tailed macaques reached through the wire of their enclosure and successfully redirected the operating sprinkler heads toward the visitors!
- Within one month the energetic sun bears had ripped up every bit of landscaping in their new enclosure. They even repositioned logs to act as bridges leading from the enclosure. Yes, one of our sun bears escaped!