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The Moon Bear (Ursus thibetanus)

Also known as the Asiatic Black Bear, the Moon Bear was recently in the news due to illegal wildlife trading. It is important to learn more about them and understand why so many people are hunting them. So why are they being hunted and trapped to near extinction? Let's find out!

Physical Description and Behavior

The Moon Bear's fur is black, with a dark brown muzzle and a light strip on their torso that goes from shoulder to shoulder. Adult bears are about 120–190 cm (47–75 in) in length. Males can weigh about 60–200 kg (130–440 lb) while females weigh much less at 40–125 kg (88–276 lb).

They live in family groups with both of the parents and up to two litters of young. When they travel, they do so from the tallest member of the family to the smallest and can spend upwards of 15% of their time in trees. Their time in trees is mainly used to search for food, hide from predators, and even hibernate. They are more able to climb than most other bear species and are even able to climb if both their hind legs are broken.

Moon Bears are omnivorous. They eat insects, termites, carrion, eggs, mushrooms, grass, fruits, seeds, honey, acorns, grains, and more. Or basically, anything that is available for them to eat. Despite this, the vast majority of their diet is plant-based. They only hunt or eat carrion when there are no other options available.

Habitat and Location

It is considered to be Vulnerable according to the IUCN Red List. This is due to their rapidly decreasing population as a result of logging, habitat loss, and hunting. It is hunted often for its pelt, as well as its gallbladder in order to extract bile. Bear bile is seen as a folk medicine in some places, and many bears are hunted specifically for this bile.

They are found over a fairly wide area of Southern Asia. In many places, they are extinct but are still found in China, Bangladesh, Korea, and more.

Learn more about this bear and more with this video from MinuteEarth

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