Sloth Bear (Melursus ursinus) - Wiki
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[Photo] Sloth Bear (Melursus ursinus) in captivity at the Smithsonian National Zoological Park in Washington, DC. Date 12 March 2007. Photo credit: Aaron Siirila (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:Asiir)
The Sloth Bear (Melursus ursinus) is a nocturnal bear, inhabiting the lowland forests of India, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka. The Sloth Bear is the only bear species classified in genus Melursus.
The body is 150???190 cm long, covered in long, shaggy fur, ranging from auburn to black, with a distinctive "V"-shaped white mark on the chest, a whitish snout and black nose. The snout is long with bare lips and a lack of upper incisors, adaptations for its insect-based diet. The front feet are turned inwards and have non-retractable, curved ivory claws that are adapted for digging. The males, weighing 80???140 kg, are larger than the females, which weigh only 55???95 kg. Its pugmarks are very similar to a human footprint.
The Sloth Bear does not move as slowly as a sloth, and can easily outrun a human. One theory has it that early explorers saw these bears lying upside down in trees and gave them their common name for the similarity to the way a sloth hangs in trees. Another claims that the Sloth Bear gets its name because its normal walk is more of a meandering shuffle.
The Sloth Bear primarily eats ants and termites. It may also eat honey, eggs, birds, flowers, tubers, fruits, grains and meat.
The animal's fondness for honey has caused it to be nicknamed the Honey bear (a nickname also given to the sun bear); it has been known to scale the occasional tree to knock down a bee honeycomb, which it will then enjoy on the ground below.
It is found in a variety of habitats - from dry grassland to evergreen forests - but has a preference for tropical deciduous forests. Within that category, the Sloth Bear prefers dry deciduous forests and rocky outcrops to wet deciduous forests.
Poaching and loss of this habitat and fragmentation of available habitat are the primary threats to the survival of the Sloth Bear on the Indian subcontinent. Predators such as the Leopard, wolves, and the Tiger may attempt to prey on the young, though the female Sloth Bear with young is exceptionally vicious regarding any threats to her young. Adults defend themselves quite well with their claws. Humans hunt the Sloth Bear primarily for its gall bladder, which is valued in eastern medicine. The Sloth Bear's current conservation status is Vulnerable.
Entertainment and concerns
The Sloth Bear is also known in circuses as a "dancing bear". Macaque monkeys also fight with the bears as another form of entertainment.
In popular culture
Baloo, from The Jungle Book, is a Sloth Bear.
In the first episode of season 2 of wildboyz, Steve-O fought a Sloth Bear.
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