The Malayan Sun Bear Awareness Week at Melaka Zoo has started today and BSBCC is glad to be part of the event. Dr. Wong presented a talk and BSBCC booth was set up to share information with the public about sun bear conservation in Malaysia. Also present as exhibitors were APE Malaysia and Malaysia Nature Society that are currently working on the protection of sun bears in Malaysia. A representative from the Department of Wildlife and National Park Peninsular Malaysia was also present to support the event. The awareness programme will continue until the 4th June 2017. Come and visit Melaka Zoo and learn about sun bears!
Harith from APE Malaysia, explaining about enrichments
BSBCC recently received a mail from Alyona Philippova, organizer of Happy Bear eco charity project, Russia sharing their experience in raising awareness on bears through exhibition of arts. A drawing of one of our sun bears Wan Wan by 15 year old Marina Ignatko from Ukraine was also presented in a card, wishing the best for Wan Wan. We are glad to be in touch with the organization and look forward to work with them further in future!
The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species is listed Sun bear as Vulnerable status. Deforestation, poaching issue, pet trade are still happening out there and all this can eventually lead sun bear to extinction.
There is always hope! So, Please save the Sun Bear before it is too late!!
Text by Charina Pria Photos by Sumira Muis, Chiew Lin May & Seng Yen Wah
Do you ever feel like getting an ice cream when the weather is scorching hot outside? Or continuously shake your legs or walk up and down when you’ve got nothing to do?
Here at the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre (BSBCC), where the weather sometimes hits a summery 31°C, we take in extra care to treat our sun bears with our very own version of ice cream called, “Ice Blocks”, which are various fruits in a block of frozen honey-water, then on other days, we trek into the jungle in search of bamboos, sticks, dead logs, termite mounds or anything that is plausible to be creatively created as a “toy” for the sun bears to stimulate naturalistic behavior. This is important because a sun bear in captivity will tend to pace, and what we call this a stereotypic behavior – A behavior that is equivalent to a human’s shaking of legs or walking up and down for a long period of time, hence why these “toys” are an important management tool in ensuring that these bears are stimulated physiological and psychologically.
These “toys”, also known as Enrichment, serves more than just a cure for boredom, but with careful and a thoughtful goal-oriented plan, these enrichment tools can serve a higher purpose in stimulating a sun bear’s cognitive, sensory, locomotion, and social skills and so much more! Since most of the sun bears – young and old – at the centre are rescued from illegal pet trade, these enrichment tools are very crucial to encourage their naturalistic behavior such a wild sun bear would be and have. From using their claws to dig out, their exceptionally long tongue to retrieve honey or fruits, their keen sense of smell and even to their skillful tree-climbing bustle. Here’s a look at some of the enriching toys we give to our sun bears!
Sika, Kina and Gutuk are playing with Aussie Dog Ball, an enrichment tool designed to encourage the usage of their claws, their tongue and overall to stimulate their cognitive skills in order to retrieve the fruits that are being trapped inside, replicating a like-fruit that may be found in the dense rainforest.
Bermuda and Ronnie are using their long tongue to retrieve the honey out of the drilled log. An environment-based enrichment tool designed to peak a bear’s sense of smell, foraging skills and the usage of their long tongue!
Sika, Noah, Panda and Chin are lounging their lazy days on the hammock, made out of used fire hoses, a type of physical/habituation enrichment to encourage the bears to rest up high above the grounds as how a wild sun bear would rest in the canopies of the rainforest!
Fun fact: Did you know that sun bears can also build nests way up high on the trees just as how an Orang Utan would?
Nano, Dodop and Noah enthusiastically clawing their way into the natural treasures (aka termites!) hidden within the log. This type of natural enrichment promotes the usage of their claws, their sense of smell, and their foraging skills too!
Fun fact: When wild sun bears feast upon termites in the rain forest, this ensures the population level of termites to be controlled, thus ensuring a healthy ecosystem of trees from being completely devoured! Thank you sun bears!
A type of enrichment tool to prompt locomotor activity among the sun bears so that the bears can happily climb, climb and climb!
And many more! We thank our keepers and volunteers for the endless commitment for their hard work in creating existing and even new enrichment ideas for the sun bears!
We always strive to maintain and ensure that the sun bears in our centre are well care not only through their diet but an overall welfare and rehabilitation through encouragement with these enrichment tools that is crucial to strengthen the foundation of sun bear skills and hopefully, this progress will eventually lead up to their release back into the wild, where they truly belong.
Today, we were visited by a group of students from National University of Singapore. They were accompanied by their teacher, together with APE Malaysia coordinators. The students were given a short presentation on sun bears and BSBCC works before they had a tour at the observation platforms. At the platform, they were given a simple task where they need to observe the bear behaviours within a period time. They were really lucky today as it was raining heavily and they were able to observe many bears being active and playful in the rain! Thank you for spending the time for visiting us and we hope that they learn more about sun bears and its environment, and help us spread the words!
Today we celebrate our first Sun Bear Day 2017 and on the same time celebrating Dr. Wong Siew Te’s birthday. The objective of this event is to raise awareness on the smallest bear in the world , the sun bear. We invited students of Nature Club from four different schools in Sandakan district to participate in this event. Some activities were held such as Bear Observation, Canvas Painting, Free Airbrush Tattoo and we also set up a photo booth for public. Everyone enjoyed during this celebration, hopefully more participation will be involved in the future. Thank you for all the supports and HAPPY BIRTHDAY Dr. Wong !
A school visit from SK Karamunting Preschool, Sandakan visited BSBCC today, 11th May 2017.There were 56 students and 16 teachers and parents involved in this visit. The school children came together with their teachers and parents. They were given a short introduction on sun bears using sun bear mascot and later they were brought to the observation platforms to see the bears roaming in the forest enclosure. The children together with their parents and teachers enjoyed their time at our Centre learning about sun bears and the environment. We were glad to share our knowledge on sun bears to them. We believe that environmental education can help in the efforts to save sun bears and their habitat for generations to come.
Today, Dr.Wong Siew and the BSBCC education team are at the Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts (KLPAC) for the Yayasan Sime Darby Environmental Day 2017 (YSDED 2017). The YSDED 2017 event aims to raise public awareness, interest and understanding on the importance to protect and conserve the environment, climate change and its impact as well as to encourage community participation, especially for the younger generation, to take part in environmental conservation and adopting sustainable practices in our lifesytle. The opening ceremony is officiated by YSD Chairman, YABhg. Tun Musa Hitam, as well as the Minister of Natural Resources and Environment, YB. Dato' Sri Dr. Hj Wan Junaidi Tunku Jaafar. Various activities offered during this event which includes exhibitions and demonstrations, eco-friendly products and services, art activities and environmental documentaries and films screenings, environmental talks and forums. Come and join us at the KLPAC from 9.00 am - 10.30 pm. We are happy to share the valuable knowledge about sun bears and their habitat to the public. #ysded2017 #connecting2nature #bsbcc #sunbear #awarenessprogramme
Our BSBCC education team getting ready at the booth.
Dr. Wong Siew Te delivering his talk on 'What We Should Do To Save Sun Bears In Malaysia"
Text by Shauna Tay Photos by Sumira Muis, Chiew Lin May & Seng Yen Wah
My name is Shauna, I'm 24, Malaysian and an aspiring conservationist! I first came to know about BSBCC 7 years ago when Dr.Wong took me in as a young eager volunteer wanting to get some experience in animal husbandry and conservation. It has been incredible coming back after so long; the centre is now open to the public, the staff team has grown ten-fold, the capacity for bears has increased and the centre as a whole has developed in every way possible.
As a volunteer, we are given the opportunity to work closely with the bear keeping team. They are so giving of their time, knowledge and expertise - you learn something new every day! It has been great getting to know the staff, bears, and the everyday routine of maintaining such a facility for rescued sun bears. These bears have such different personalities, backgrounds, and are all on their own journey through rehabilitation. As an individual who strives to have a future in conservation, volunteering here for two months gave me insight into what it takes to develop such a project. Understanding the bear care, animal welfare, marketing, education and management side of things was important and I'm thankful to BSBCC for providing this learning platform.
I was also fortunate enough to accompany their outreach team to local schools in the area, assisting them as they conducted sun bear awareness booths, presentations and games for students of varying ages. It is essential to spread awareness of the challenges that of sun bears face, and to encourage young people to appreciate and respect nature. This is key to changing perspectives and ultimately the reality of these magnificent bears and other wildlife.
While working with the bear keeping team, we made various enrichment structures for the bears like fire hose hammocks (a favourite), hanging wooden logs with holes for honey, fruity ice blocks (another favourite), banana and peanut better nest balls and much much more. We would dedicate our entire afternoon to making enrichment for the bears who were unable to go into the forest enclosures. This was a really great part of the programme and an everyday practice by the staff. In the last few weeks of my placement, the bears Simone and Along were undergoing fence training - which is a sizeable indoor training pen (looking out into a forest enclosure) with an electric fence. This is essential as they need to familiarise themselves with the fence before being able to enjoy the spacious forest enclosures. I was able to do the behaviour monitoring for them at this time, which was a great learning opportunity and a reminder of how overwhelming it can be for these bears to be given bigger spaces after living in small cages for most of their lives.
The beauty of volunteering at BSBCC is that your ideas and opinions are taken into account. Your questions are always encouraged and appreciated, replied to with a smile and good reasoning. This is what makes it such a welcoming place. Thank you again for the incredible experience! I miss my bear family and hope to come back soon with more expertise of my own so I can better contribute to the future of our bears.
The Ekspresi Negaraku programme was held at Padang Bandar Sandakan, Sandakan, Sabah. Ekspresi Negaraku is programme to remind Malaysians to love and be loyal to the nation, as well as inculcating the spirit of patriotism among Malaysian. Dr. Wong Siew Te, BSBCC Founder and CEO was selected as one of the Icon Negaraku. This event is launched by Malaysia's Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak. Many fun activities were held during this event including exhibitions from various organisations.
#ekspresinegaraku #mynegaraku #bsbcc #wongsiewte
Wira Negaraku, Dr. Wong Siew Te
Malaysia's Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak delivering his speech