EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WEHT) – The sun is setting for a sun bear who has made Mesker Park Zoo his home for the last decade. A final farewell for Fong the Malayan sun bear. The zoo’s deputy director, Paul Bouseman, says the change is for the better. Born in Malaysia in 1995, Father Time is catching up with the 28 year old bear.

“He has had some age-related arthritis issues that we’ve been monitoring,” explains Bouseman. “And we are happy that he will have a home where he can have flat access point to the exhibit.”

Fong’s new home at the Racine Zoo in Wisconsin will provide better mobility as he ages. Since his arrival in 2013, Fong has been a favorite among zoo staff and guests.

“Sun bears are the smallest bear species in the world, but they have one of the biggest personalities,” says Bouseman. “Fong has really a sweet, somewhat melancholy, appearance to his face no matter what his mood. And that has really pulled on visitors’ heartstrings.”

Bouseman calls the changes at the zoo “bittersweet”. As Fong departs from Evansville, the zoo is already making plans for another exciting addition.

“We’ve been working on a multi-year plan to expand the space for a tiger at Mesker Park Zoo and Botanic Garden,” says Bouseman. “So the last phase has been to completely renovate the 1977 night house area.”

The expansion will connect the current sun bear exhibit with the previous tiger exhibit, complete with a bridge that was constructed in 2021. Renovations are expected to begin over the Winter with the introduction of a new tiger planned for Spring of 2024.