They earned the nickname "dog bear" from their stocky, muscular build, small ears and a short muzzle. Their sleek, short black coat stops them from overheating in the tropical weather and its coarseness provides protection from twigs, branches and rain.
Ironically, sun bears are nocturnal. They lumber through the forests by night, snacking on fruits, berries, roots, insects, small birds, lizards, and rodents. They have an excellent sense of smell and extremely long claws, exceeding four inches in length. They use these long claws to rip open trees and termite nests. They also have an almost comically long tongue for extracting honey from bee nests, giving them their other nickname, “honey bear.”
The two major threats to sun bears are habitat loss and commercial hunting. They are hunted mainly for their meat and for use in medicines. They are also hunted for their fur and even to sell as exotic pets. Killing of the bear is prohibited by national wildlife laws. However, these laws are rarely enforced.
Like its celebrity look-a-like, the Malayan Sun Bear enjoys some gold bling.