Little Romolina is a six months old female sun bear cub who was kept in a small cage as a house pet at Kampung Romol, Sapulut, Sabah.
The owner claimed that they found the cub alone in the forest and he had kept her in his house. We believed that Romolina’s mom was killed in order to take the cub from the forest. Bob Hartley and Virgil Joon Gunting got knowledge about this cub and quickly helped save her from the villager by negotiating with him to hand over the cub. She was immediately handed over to the Sabah Wildlife Department then sent to BSBCC and placed into quarantine on the same day on July 7th, 2018. During the arrival, she was tiny and weighed 5.95 kg. She was suffering from severe malnutrition. The owner fed Romolina rice, cereals, sausages, fruits and no milk was given to her. She was also being confined in a small cage which restricted her growth. The name “Romolina” was given by the person who rescued her. She was named after the Romol village where she was rescued from.
Romolina is the youngest female sun bear cub at BSBCC. She is kept under close observation around the clock by bear care staff in quarantine.
She was subsequently found to be malnourished and showed signs of stunted growth. Consequently, her claws and teeth appeared too big for her tiny body as a result from an unbalanced diet.
Little by little she has grown to know that she is in a safe place. She adapted really well to her new environment.
During these two weeks she has gained more weight. She has a good appetite but is choosy in accepting a diet of fruits and vegetables. She loves watermelon and Honey!
Little Romolina enjoys playing with enrichment toys.
The enrichment plays a vital role in encouraging Little Romolina – to be a sun bear again! She gets really curious and stands on both her hind legs then gets excited about it! Romolina will use her long sharp claws to tear and destroy the enrichment. She always shows curiosity in new toys and treats where she will learn to dig, climb and destroy the enrichment!
She learns climbing too. She will climb up to the basket or sleeping platform or when there are treats around. As a sun bear cub she will spends most of the day sleeping on the ground or hammock platform.
She is just enjoying her new found second chance of freedom.
Poor Romolina had been kept confined in a cage alone for a long period. It can be seen that she has a habit of sucking her front left paw or rubbing her back near care takers, and she vocalizes to seek comfort and safety. She shows more attachment to humans and appears tame. She needs special care and attention. She should still be with her mother learning how to survive in the forest.
Slowly, Romolina will learn to trust the new environment and put her past behind her. It was truly a blessing when watching Romolina grow more confident and healthy. Please speak up against the illegal pet trade and protect them from extinction!
Found abandoned near Lokan River, Kulu-Kulu Village in Sabah and kept in a cage for three months as a house pet. He was then surrendered to the Sabah Wildlife Department and sent to BSBCC on the 19th of May, 2018. Every year, orphaned sun bears are rescued by the Sabah Wildlife Department or are surrendered by local people. Sun bear cubs are targeted for the illegal pet trade, hunted for food or used in traditional medicine. It is believed that their mother will be killed so that the poacher can snatch the bear cub. In the wild, sun bear cubs will spend the first two to three years of their lives with their mom. Without his mother to teach him the skills he needs, the sun bear becomes incapable of being released back into the wild and they must rely on our rehabilitation support.
Logan was found alone in the forest and then kept as a pet. But he is in safe hands now and settling in well at BSBCC
The rehabilitation process after his arrival starts with strong bonding with his surrogate mother (bear care taker), where he slowly gains trust, strength and can be a wild bear again. The surrogate mother then will be assisting in daily walks in the forest with the bear cub to give them a second chance to learn all of the skills needed to survive in the forest.
The youngest male sun bear cub, Logan has settled happily into his new life. You can see how much little Logan has grown in that time and how chubby he is now with a weight of 15.10 kg.
With a beautiful yellow sun bear little crescent chest mark
This brave bear that has lost his mother endured a lifetime of suffering in captivity and has never known the wild freedom he was born to have. On the 7th of June 2018, Logan finally felt the sunshine and grass under his little paws again!
Logan will get to play in the forest, learn to forage, climb trees and explore the forest. He learns to trust every day. The surrogate mother is helping little Logan to learn just how to be a wild bear!
Learn to be wild bear again!
Day by day it is such a blissful time in the morning, he knows when we are going to start walking him in the forest. He will quickly climb down from his basket and without hesitation he will run into the dense forest. He is developing very well and showing great progress with his forest skills.
No surprise – he is always busy foraging and filling his tummy! Sun bears are opportunistic omnivores. For Logan, he loves to dig by using his sharp curved claws and strong teeth in search his favourite wild food - termites, ants, insects, pill millipedes and bird carcasses. When he finds something for his own, he is very happy about it! Sometimes Logan will stand up on his hind legs to get a better smell or view of something that attracted his attention.
Busy Logan! Finding favorite food
Logan digs into decayed wood with his long claws
Lots of yummy food to find here!!
Now for some foraging
Logan checks a dead log for termites
Logan is licking ants off the tree
Yummy! Bird Carcass!
Favourite Termite Mounds! He uses his sharp claws and teeth to break the termite mounds
Favourite Termite Mounds! He uses his sharp claws and teeth to break the termite mounds
Logan was missing his left thumb and his left front paw has developed abnormally, but these have never made give him up and he is always full of enthusiasm climbing trees. He loves to learn new skills and develops his small muscles every day! He is an agile climber where he uses his powerful legs, feet with hairless soles and sharp claws to climb the tree. Right after foraging he will choose a tree he loves and climb it. He learns the way to climb trees or liana and just enjoys the beautiful sun view! He is so brave! He always wants to make the most of what he has got! Only sometimes he will easily get tired after he tries to climb too many trees.
His true ability and agile shine through when up in the tree canopy where he belongs
Once out to the forest, he quickly climbs up into the trees
Excellent at climbing!
Explore my new HOME in the dense rainforest
He does a balancing act on the small branch!
He is determined to make the best of his life !!
Logan is comfy on Liana
He is so brave. He always wants to make the most of what he has got
How to stay COOL on tree!!
Logan have an incredible sense of smell!
When he gets excited roaming the forest he will start to play fight and wrestle with his surrogate mother. He loves to play with anything and everything.
He absolutely loved it- he will rolling and running around!
He is a very active little bear! He knows the way to the stream and enjoys dipping, chilling in the stream or laying his snout deep in the water to beat the hot weather! Logan takes great pleasure enjoying his freedom each day in the forest.
Nothing feels BEST than a dip in the stream
For little Logan, his newfound freedom has meant to him: tearing decayed wood, finding his favourite food such as termites, sun bathing, and soaking in the stream. We cannot wait to see the next challenge he has to learn to grow every day.
He is a cheeky and intelligent bear to enjoy all things in the forest
How relaxed and comfortable can a cub be
Laze on the forest floor
Logan take a nap
Looking at these pictures, it is hard believe he is a huge part of the forest life now and is also catching his daily experience in life. Watching him is like watching any bear cubs in the wild!
He looks so at ease outside the forest
Miss my mum to venture together in the forest
Little Logan learn to trust and realize life with Tall trees, grass, insects, macaques at the forest
Logan will adapt well to life as a WILD sun bear and slowly he learns to leave his past as a pet behind him
Text by Sofia Lundegårdh Photos by Chiew Lin May & Seng Yen Wah
My name is Sofia Lundegårdh, I am 18 and from Sweden. For my entire life I have known that I want to work with animals, which is why I chose to study animal care and am now in the final year of my 3 year education. It was only recently that I found more interest in animal rehabilitation, so when I got the opportunity to volunteer at the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre thanks to a scholarship from my school I was so happy I almost could not believe it. Therefore, as part of the internship that is included in my education, I travelled to Borneo for 5 weeks together with my classmate Jonas. It was my first time ever going to Asia and working in such a warm and humid climate, which took some time to get used to after coming directly from the snow in Sweden. Sometimes it got tough, but the staff was great at making sure that were okay and considerate when you needed breaks. In the end, knowing that what I did was to help the bears made all the work very rewarding.
The daily routines at the BSBCC consisted of cleaning cages and preparing food for the bears which was given to them both inside the bear house as well as the outside forest enclosures. One of my favourite things to do, however, was making enrichments. Every day all the bears had to be stimulated to keep them entertained and encourage their natural behaviours to help them learn about the forest. Enrichments were usually made out of whatever materials we had available such as leaves, sticks and fire hoses and filled with hidden treats like peanut butter or honey. But we also got the chance to test our creativity and make something bigger and more advance, in my case a hammock and a ramp! Later watching the bears play with whatever you gave them always made me happy, but I also began noticing the different behaviours and characteristics between individuals. Before I came here I did not know much about sun bears, but their charming and unique personalities made them the most wonderful animal that I have ever worked with. It saddens me deeply that their backgrounds are filled with so much trauma caused by humans after having been kept as pets under horrible conditions.
As I slowly got to know the bears, I also got to know the staff of the centre. Everyone has been so friendly, welcoming and helpful from the very start, and working next to them has taught me a lot about animal rehabilitation as well as given me insight into the operation of the work place. I also found it incredibly inspiring to see how passionate, dedicated and caring for the bears all the keepers are.
I really do not want to go home yet, but these 5 weeks have gone by way too fast. I am so grateful for my school sending me here, as this experience has been one of the best things I have ever done in my life, and though I am sad to leave I also made so many great memories. To the staff of BSBCC, thank you all so incredibly much for everything you do for the bears and for everything you did for me during these 5 weeks. I am already planning my next visit here, as I definitely want to come back in the nearest possible future! Lastly, I would like to share a quote from Jane Goodall that I was shown by Dr Wong. It has meant a lot to me during my time here and will continue to inspire me for the rest of my life, so I hope that it might do the same for anyone else who reads this: “Only if we understand, can we care. Only if we care, will we help. Only if we help, shall they be saved.”
Text by Chiew Lin May Photos by Seng Yen Wah & Chiew Lin May
Montom arrived safely at the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre (BSBCC), after a long trip from the Kampung Melankap, Kota Marudu on January 21st, 2015.
The story reported to the Wildlife Rescue Unit was that their dog chased away his mother and she left Montom behind. He was taken and kept as a pet for a year inside a chicken wire mesh cage and was fed with the wrong diet. The owner was willing to surrender Montom to the Sabah Wildlife Department’s Wildlife Rescue Unit. During the arrival, he was stressed and weighed 26.8kg.
The rehabilitation process is long as it takes time for them to learn the vital skills they need to survive in the wild. This step begins with a period of quarantine to recover mentally from their traumatic years in the illegal pet trade, gain back trust and commence rehabilitation at BSBCC. With care and love from our bear team, he slowly recovers from the pain and trauma of being separated from his mother. His appetite is great and he is an active bear. He is quickly settling into his new environment and is getting a taste of the sweet life at the BSBCC.
Thank you to the Sabah Wildlife Department who rescued Montom so that he can have a second chance at living a happy wild bear life.
Since his arrival at the BSBCC, Montom has thrived. He made his first friend, Susie2 and enjoys the social play very much!
Over ten months after Montom was rescued from the illegal pet trade, where all he knew was fear and pain, on October 1st, 2015 he and Susie2 took their biggest step out from their dens into the forest and sunshine outside!
Montom kept looking up at all the TALL trees, again and again.
He is an exceptionally brave bear!
Montom moved around a lot to forage.
He went out quickly to his forest and began foraging eagerly for his favorite food.
In Malay language, the sun bear is known as “beruang madu” (honey madu) since it likes consuming honey. The sun bear has an extremely acute sense of smell. He will become incredibly excited if he finds honey! The availability of tasty beetles, pill millipedes, termites, ants and invertebrates has caused Montom to love spending more time on feeding and staying in the forest. This is EXCELLENT for him! He can always be seen sitting and eating his food between his fore paws.
Montom is a very inquisitive bear and is doing very well in the forest.
He is surprisingly good at climbing for his age.
Montom climbed up into the trees to continue his exploration of the forest.
You could hear tearing sounds from above – finding termites!
There has been one time that Montom was hanging upside down and had tied himself with the vines; he was having so much fun!
He is happy to be with all his bear friends where they can be free to forage,
sniff for HONEY,
chat with bear friends,
have a good roll in the soil
and growl together!
Montom is quite playful and he enjoys play wrestling with Kala.
He is one of the peacemakers and is a very gentle bear.
He will normally find a nice shaded place to have a nap.
On rainy days, he loves staying high up in the trees to cool off and avoid leeches!
Sun bears are very expressive! He loves beaming his big bear SMILE and thoroughly enjoys himself!
He has embraced everything about his new life.
Way to go Montom! He is on his way to learning more skills that will help him return to the forest one day!!