In 1985, the San Diego Zoo celebrated the birth of the first sloth bear in the Western Hemisphere. A name-the-bear contest was held, with over 14,000 entries! The winning name was Deva, a Sri Lankan name that means Indian princess.
Currently, there are no sloth bears at the San Diego Zoo, as our male, Ken, is on a breeding loan at another zoo facility.
Currently, the sloth bear remains vulnerable. This, in large part, is due to poaching. Sloth bear gall bladders are believed by some cultures to cure certain illnesses, which is not true. Habitat destruction also plays a major role in the decline of sloth bears in Asia.
And many humans believe that sloth bears are aggressive and one of the most dangerous animals in central India; in fact, people go out of their way to find and kill the innocent bears.
This is unfortunate, because sloth bears are typically shy and are aggressive only when startled or confronted. Even though a hunting ban is in place, cubs are still captured and forced to perform for the Qalandars, who earn their living by making the bears "dance" for audiences.
One small step for sloth bears
Sloth bears play an important role in their habitats as seed dispersers. San Diego Zoo Global started studying the sloth bear to learn more about its behavior and needs. This unique bear is worth saving, and every measure you take is one small step for the sloth bear but a big step toward saving the planet and the animals that inhabit it.
You can help us bring sloth bears and other species back from the brink by supporting the San Diego Zoo Global Wildlife Conservancy. Together we can save and protect wildlife around the globe.