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By Paul Clenton
Last week there was a phonecall announcing that 2 new bears were to be delivered to us from a zoo on the west sdie of Sabah. On the day before they arrived it was revealed to us that one was called Mamatai and the other Wan Wan.
Matatai earned her name because of her aggression (I believe it approximates to “killer” in the Dusun language). However, the same has been said for other bears in thre past -such as Linggam- who seem quite gentle when here. She is an interesting animal as she is the first sun bear I have ever seen with dwarfism. Just as in humans, her condition means that her limbs are much shorter in proportion to the rest of her body. She seems to have Achondroplasia dwarfism. In humans, this type of dwarfism has a prevalence is approximately 1 in 25,000 in the population and accounts for most dwarfism cases. Usually this is due to a random mutation associated with advanced paternal age, in other cases the mutation is inherrited.
Her dwarfism probably has some effect upon her ability to compete with other bears in the wild, but her main issue seems hunan in origin; she is chronically obese. She has already being eased onto a special diet that can hopefully make her a a much healtheir and happier bear. I regret that I shall soon have to leave, as I am very interested to see the progress she makes.
The other bear, Wan Wan (??) is also a female and is overweight, too, though nothing like Mamatai. Mamatai seems very fond of Wan Wan and will follow her around the exercise pen in quarrantine. This is quite good as already it seems Wan Wan is inspiring Mamatai to climb, something we’d certainly like to encourage.
With good care, a proper diet and the environment they are now going to have access to, I’m sure that these 2 bears are going to have a brighter future. I look forward to seeing how they are doing when I return next.