Sun Bear Behind the Scenes experience

8 December 2020

The Zoo is thrilled to announce the introduction of a new Sun Bear Behind the Scenes experience in early 2021.

Sasa the Sun Bear

Sasa the Sun Bear

We are all really excited to be launching this new animal experience where visitors will be able to meet the charismatic Sasa the Sun Bear in her bear house, and see first-hand how our Animal Care team take excellent care of her.

Sun Bears are incredibly intelligent animals and visitors will get to see a medical training session with her Zookeepers, which will show just how smart Sasa is. Afterwards participants will be able to give Sasa a treat or some other enrichment item and get an up-close view of her markings, her tongue and her sharp claws.

Due to Sasa’s long, sharp claws being designed for climbing trees and also the fact that she has a decent set of teeth, visitors, like our Zookeepers, will have protected contact with Sasa. However the experience of getting this close to these enigmatic animals is truly magical.

The Zoo has a long-standing conservation partnership with Free the Bears, which aims to protect, preserve and enrich the lives of bears throughout South East Asia.

Sasa’s father, who lived at Wellington Zoo, was rescued by Free the Bears and a number of our Zoo team have gone to work with the bears in the Free The Bears Sanctuaries in South East Asia. This is an important relationship and every Sun Bear Behind the Scenes experience with Sasa will help us to support Free the Bears and our other conservation partners around the world.

While bookings won’t be available until early next year, gift vouchers for this new experience are available for purchase at the Zoo, or via the Zoo’s website, for an unforgettable Christmas gift. 10% of proceeds from every Behind the Scenes experience will go directly towards conservation projects supported by Wellington Zoo, including Free the Bears.

For more information on the Sun Bear Behind the Scenes experience, please visit:


About Sun Bears:

The Zoo is home to one female Sun Bear, Sasa.

Sun Bears are found in the dense tropical rainforests across Southeast Asia and they are mainly solitary animals.

Sun Bears are the smallest of the world’s eight bear species, and get their name from the golden marks on their chests that look like the rising sun. Sun Bears are primarily nocturnal and arboreal, which is why visitors will often see Sasa spending much of her day snoozing in the branches in her habitat.

Born in the wild, Sasa's father, Sean, was rescued from outside a store in Cambodia by Free the Bears in 1996, and came to Wellington Zoo in 2004 as part of the regional Malayan Sun Bear breeding programme.  Sean successfully bred with the Zoo’s female, Chomel and Sasa was born in 2006.

Sun Bears are under threat both directly and indirectly from human activities, and one of the major issues they face in the wild is deforestation.