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FILE PHOTO: A sun bear is seen inside a semi-natural enclosure at a bear rescue center in Tam Dao National Park in VietnamFILE PHOTO: A sun bear is seen inside a semi-natural enclosure at a bear rescue center in Tam Dao national park, north of Hanoi, Vietnam, July 22, 2015. REUTERS/Nguyen Huy Kham/File Photo

By Will Dunham

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Sun bears, the smallest of the world’s eight bear species, are generally solitary animals, content to spend most of their time alone outside mating season, foraging for fruit, rodents, birds and insects in Southeast Asian tropical forests.

But, scientists said on Thursday, they also possess an unexpected social skill that puts them in elite company alongside humans and some of our close evolutionary cousins:

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