Moon Bear

Asiatic black bear, Tibetan black bear, Himalayan black bear, moon bear
Ursus thibetanus

Their ability to balance proficiently on their hind feet mean that they are sometimes trained as cubs to dance for human amusement.

Life span 25 years.

Statistics Body length: 130-190cm, Weight: males: 100-200kg, female: 50-125kg.

Physical Description Asiatic black bears have long black fur with a distinct white patch on the chest that is often crescent-shaped. The fur around the shoulders and throat is particularly long, and their ears are relatively large.

Distribution Asiatic black bears live in eastern Asia, including Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, China, India, Islamic Republic of Iran, Japan, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Malaysia, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Russian Federation, Taiwan and Vietnam.

Habitat They inhabit forested areas, particularly hill and mountainous regions.

Diet Asiatic black bears are more carnivorous than their American counterparts, although only a small part of their diet is made up of meat. This includes small mammals, birds, fish, molluscs and carcasses. They also feed on grasses, fruits, berries, seeds, insects and honey. In autumn they fatten up for the winter by feeding on nuts.

Behaviour Asiatic black bears are solitary except for maternal family groups, and occupy a home range of 10-20 square km. They are most active at night, although in some areas they may be active during the day as well.

Reproduction Asiatic black bears mate from June to July and give birth during January and February. Females give birth to 1-4 cubs, which are born blind and helpless.

Conservation status The subspecies U.t.gedrosianus (Baluchistan) is listed by the IUCN as Critically Endangered, but other subspecies are classified as Vulnerable. They are on CITES: Appendix I. Deforestation and loss of habitat are the main problems they face. They are killed by farmers due to the threat they pose to livestock, and they are also unpopular for their habit of stripping valuable timber trees of bark and reducing the value. Asiatic black bears are also hunted for their gall bladders, which are used in traditional Chinese medicine.

Notes Unlike American black bears, Asiatic black bears are notoriously aggressive towards humans and there are numerous records of human attacks and killings. This is mainly due to the fact that they are more likely to come into contact with humans, and they will often attack if surprised.
Source: BBC Science & Nature.

If you want to know more about Moon Bears and their disturbing reality in the gall bladder farming in China, please check Animals Asia, an organization that aims to ban bile farms in China and Vietnam.

That's Andrew in the photo, the famous 3-legged Moon Bear, the icon of Moon Bear rescuing, as he was the first Bear to be rescued in China by Animals Asia. Andrew died last year.