Photos by Chiew Lin May & Seng Yen Wah
Many of my Friends used to travel out of the country to enjoy their vacation time and explore new places. As our leave is so limited, no wonder most of us like to spend this precious time to take a leisure tour and take fancy photos. Hmm. But me, I was looking for some different. What if I was able to contribute some of my time towards helping society? Wow. A hero dream huh? With this idea in mind and great opportunities in front of me, I came across the Sun Bear Programme.
I'm not that strange to Sun Bears as a I have visited ones before in a local zoo. The memory of them is still very vivid; a little sun bear put in a bare steel enclosure and he is all alone. This was my very first experience with a Sun Bear.
Back in Nov 2017, my friend and I come across an eco film fest in Publika, where we had the chance to watch a film from Dr. Audrey as well as talk to her afterwards. She suggested for us to have a look into the Sun Bear Centre, and yes, both of us signed up to the program.
“Do you have a chance to cuddle or pet the Sun Bear?” I believe this question will always be the top pick QnA for every single volunteer who wants to work with Sun Bear Programme.
Unfortunately, it is a no within this Sun Bear Programme to have contact with any of the bears both for volunteers, and even permanent staff in the bear house. We give no chance to have any body contact with bears. This measure is not cruel, but back with a very solid reason. These bears are meant for wild. Therefore, it will be more appropriate to leave them alone, to learn and be independent and free from human disturbance. We are not to build relationships with bear, who are meant to be released back to wild once they are fit and ready.
What we experience in the Sun Bear Centre is amazing. You have no idea how the staff dedicate their time and effort to ensure this little fragile bear, is eventually able to live within their natural settings and teach them the basic skill to sustain their life in the wild. From day one, we are already asked to remember those tricky names for each bear. You know what? For me they all just look the same. And to be honest, I couldn’t even recognise each of the bears until the end of the programme.
As a volunteer, you should honour yourself as a bear carer. You not only clean their poop, wash the cage, prepare the food, feed them with dedicated diet meal as if you were a mum, you also have to make them enrichments ,or so pet toys, that aim to enhance their skill and stimulate their natural behaviour. The satisfaction that arises when the bear starts to explore and play with your enrichment, is tremendous. And you can tell they are happy with it. I got my opportunity to make two enrichments for the bears and it feels amazing when these bears spend time with your enrichment. Their cuteness will sure dissolve your heart.
Ng Kang Yew