Text by Seng Yen Wah Photos by Chiew Lin May & Seng Yen Wah
Bintang was originally known as Ronnie, named after her previous owner who surrendered the bear to the BSBCC on July 15, 2014. Bintang was just a five months old female sun bear cub and weighed 7.9kg when she arrived in BSBCC. Her history is unknown. Owners who find Sun bear cubs will attempt to reason for holding them captive, but no explanation is suitable for the holding of a wild animal. Keeping a wild animal as a pet, such as the Sun bear, is illegal. In 2017, this bear was renamed to “Bintang” when Albert Teo Chin Kion and Borneo Eco Tour Sdn Bhd, both passionate enthusiasts into changing a sun bear’s life, adopted Bintang. Another reason for changing the name to “Bintang” is because her chest mark appears as a sun-shape, sprinkled with light black dots. “Bintang” is a beautiful name which incorporates the Malaysian meaning of “star” to represent her unique chest pattern.
Bintang was just a five months old female sun bear cub and weighed 7.9kg when she arrived in BSBCC on July 15, 2014.
“Bintang” is a beautiful name which incorporates the Malaysian meaning of “star” to represent chest mark appears as a sun-shape, sprinkled with light black dots.
Rescued at such a young age, Bintang spent little time of her cub life alongside her Mother; sun bear cub should remain with their Mother until two/three years old, when living in their natural habitat. The individuals who separated Bintang from her Mother, weakened her chances for survival as she was unable to learn valuable life skills from a young age. Therefore, BSBCC needs to take good care of her and teach her how to be a real bear again. She has been offered lots of fruits such as durian, mangosteen, tarap, rambutan and many more. Other than that, in order to encourage her natural bear behaviour, lots of enrichments are made and given to her. She shows her improvement day by day.
Sunbearo, Loki and Bintang are integrated in quarantine. She met her bear brother, Sunbearo and her bear sister, Loki within this time and all were getting along extremely well. They spend time playing fighting, suckling for comfort seeking, resting and sleeping together. Bintang’s suckling style is different to others; her paw will be placed on one of the friend, whilst suckling.
On 22 November 2015, Sunbearo, Loki and Bintang integrated with Montom and Susie2 and then Damai. On 24 December 2015, they were released to the forest enclosure. They were foraging together and found some bugs, ants and termites but they didn’t seem too interested in climbing. Loki was the first to climb. After being anxious on the first day, Bintang and Sunbearo both started to climb across the following few days, which made them fall in love with climbing. In 2016, the bears integrated with Kala, Mary, Boboi, Kitud, and Tan Tan, as well as Dodop and Wawa. There was no signs of aggression between them. Bintang is very friendly to all the bears, but Damai is her best bear friend ever! Bintang loves to spend time with her bear friend, to play fight, rest and just hang out together in the forest enclosure.
Bintang is very friendly to all the bears, but Damai is her best bear friend ever!
Bintang is a very kind-natured and gentle sun bear. She does not mind being dirty an actually loves digging and tearing up the dead wood across the forest enclosure. She enjoys her nap time and snoozing on her favourite tree. Bintang is an excellent ground nest builder. She tries to grab as many big leaves from the trees and arranges it nicely on the ground. She will continue to build even if her friends try to interrupt her, with a lot of determination to have a nice comfy nest to rest on afterwards.
Bintang is an excellent ground nest builder.
Bintang is showing excellent survival skills in the forest every day. We hope that soon she will be one of the next candidates for releasing back into the wild. She deserves to stay in the wild and be a WILD bear once again!
Text by Chung Chyi Wei Photos by Chiew Lin May & Seng Yen Wah
Hello, I’m Chyi Wei, a postgraduate student in sensor technology at Cambridge University; hence, the two weeks I spent volunteering at BSBCC was very different to my usual discipline and offered an interesting insight into animal conservation. Moreover, as a Sabahan living abroad, it was a nice reintroduction to the unique local culture and people.
Working in the bear house makes apparent the care, effort and planning that go into the centre—the meticulousness and intricacy of which are definitely overlooked from a visitor’s experience alone. It was fascinating to listen to the team describe each bear in anthropomorphic traits (my particular favourite is the severity of forehead wrinkles to tell between Julaini, Rungus and Ah Lun), and to learn of the harrowing stories of their past. Daily work consists of feeding the bears (four times a day), cleaning cages, preparing food and enrichment activities; morning tasks are allocated on a rota basis, so there is something different to look forward to each day. There is constant emphasis on the importance of enrichment for the stimulation and well-being of the bears; I like the creative and innovative ways the team employ in using recycled or organic materials to create food-based and structural enrichments—each of these has a deceitfully complex name, like Stick Paradox (basically a bouquet of twigs hiding peanut butter, for which sunbears have an insatiable appetite, in the middle). I was also fortunate enough to participate in a health check for Soo (where I learned of the many biological, genetic topics yet unknown and unstudied about sunbears, e.g. blood type), and an integration observation for Chin (to determine if this very solitary bear—even by Sun Bear standards—was ready to join an established sub-adult group of eight).
Lastly, my volunteering experience wouldn’t have been half as enjoyable if not for the friendly and welcoming team at BSBCC and APE Malaysia. Many, many, many (this is probably still insufficient) thanks to Sumira (for her expert insight into the field, tales of her interesting career and nuanced discussions on Asian-Western cultural differences); as well as to Azzry, Brandon, Fianilee, Lin May, Mizuno, Roger, Susan, Thye Lim and Wah Wah (for sharing their stories and knowledge, and not screaming at me once). Thanks!
Text by Tara Sofia Jadwani-Bungar Photos by Chiew Lin May & Seng Yen Wah
Bermuda, Mizuno tells me, is the biggest bear the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre (BSBCC). Yet he barely comes up to my nose when he stands on his hind legs. Across from him is Wan-Wan, a female with the loveliest pink nose. She eats bananas delicately, removing the peel with her claws before sliding the banana fruit into her mouth. They are the first two bears I meet at the BSBCC.
I’m Tara, a 19 year-old university student from Melbourne, Australia and my stint at the BSBCC was my first time in Borneo. I’m studying to be a vet and would like to someday work in “conservation medicine”. Volunteering at the BSBCC introduced me to working in that sector.
The first day at BSBCC was slightly overwhelming (in a good way) because everything we were doing was new. Myself and two other overseas volunteers, Sienna and Imogen, went through a series of inductions that ensured we knew all the safety precautions and rules for the Bearhouses. You’d think this would be boring but simply being at the centre is so novel that everything seems exciting and interesting.
I learned so much about the bears – from their diet to their behaviour and their relationships – that my head was practically bursting with sun bear facts for two weeks. Some of this information came from a two-hour Q&A session the interns and volunteers had with Wong, the founder of the BSBCC. The most exciting part of this session was learning about the future of the BSBCC (can’t spoil it for the rest of you, though). The bearkeepers themselves are pretty incredible people and they showed me the everyday work that goes into running the centre and keeping up with the bears. They can get pretty creative when thinking up new enrichment for the bears.
The volunteer programme was really well-run, too. There was a great balance between routine and variation. Our days would start at 8:00am with feeding the bears breakfast (rice porridge). This would be followed up with cleaning the indoor enclosure or kitchen duty (chopping up fruit and vegetables for the bears and cleaning the kitchen area). Then we’d head out to feed the bears in their outdoor enclosures. By then, it was usually lunch time (12:00-1:30pm) which was spent in a lovely air-conditioned room. Afterwards, we’d take care of afternoon feeding. This was a bit more of an adventure as we’d often be followed by a very bold troupe of macaques. They’d regularly try and swipe the bears’ food. Back at the Bearhouse, we’d build enrichment activities before feeding the bears dinner and tidying up. Home time was 5:00pm on the dot. Building enrichment was my favourite part of the day. Partly because it was really interesting to see what we could come up with to entertain/stimulate the bears. It was also when I got to talk to the keepers and the other interns and learn more about the bears and Borneo. Brandon, one of the keepers, and his buddies were building a firehose spider web for Along’s indoor enclosure. Imogen, Sumira and I made balls out of firehoses for the cubs in quarantine. Boboy spent quite a few days on a platform for the newest bear cub, Romolina. One afternoon, a group of us led by Mizuno walked in the surrounding rainforest searching for termite nests for the bears. I’m happy to say I did not get a single leech bite during my stay.
On some days, we’d head out in the ute (pick-up truck) to collect banana leaves, weeds and vines for enrichment. This was one of my favourite activities because I got to see more of the outskirts of Sandakan. Also, Mizuno’s driving was great. On two occasions, Imogen and I manned the education desk in the souvenir shop and I spent some time on the observation decks talking to visitors. Watching the bears from those viewing platforms was quite different from seeing them in the bearhouse. Funnily enough, I only realised how cute they were when I saw them from the visitors’ perspective. They had seemed cute before but I’d also learned to see them as individuals and hadn’t had the time to really coo over them.
Another memorable experience was assisting the vet and bearkeepers during a health check. Linggam was sedated and brought out to the examination table to have a wound on his leg checked. I helped take his measurements and his pawprints (inked and stamped just like ours). My fortnight at the BSBCC was one of the happiest I’ve had. Despite it being a centre for bears, it was the people at the BSBCC who made my trip. Everyone, from the bear keepers to the local interns to the education staff, was kind, welcoming and open to questions. Most of all, their love and respect for the bears was clear in all their work. Thank you, in particular, to Sumira, our project coordinator, for being not only a teacher and guide but a wonderful friend.
My time at the BSBCC also showed me how difficult conservation and rehabilitation is. How do we know when a bear is ready to be released? How can we teach a bear that has never been in the wild and has never had mother how to be a bear? How can we release bears when there’s hardly any habitat to release them into? All these questions hang over the BSBCC and every other conservation effort. I don’t think there’ll ever be a perfect, full proof answer for any them. We can only do our best to heal the damage we’ve done. Some would say that that is very pessimistic but it’s quite the opposite. The people at the BSBCC are realistic but also hopeful and very dedicated. They’re problem solvers and they believe that they will find a way. They have to if they’re going to save Sun Bears.
Logan is the youngest male cub (estimated eight months old) that we have here at BSBCC. He was found, abandoned near Lokan River, Kulu-Kulu Village in Sabah. He was surrendered to the Sabah Wildlife Department and sent to BSBCC on the 19th of May, 2018. Once Logan was found, it was evident he was missing his left thumb which left his front paw disformed. On the 7th of June, 2018 Logan first ventured out into the forest. He is so excited and alert with the surroundings. He is following behind his caretaker and explores around the forest slowly. Our caretakers have brought him out to the forest for just over two months now and he is becoming more at ease with the forest. Logan is no longer following behind but leading the caretaker where they should go that day. If he starts heading back when caretaker is not following his pace, Logan will even try get the caretaker’s attention to take him somewhere else.
A wild animal will always have their wild instinct. Logan has performed well in the forest day by day through his growth in climbing, digging and foraging skills. He has proved his foraging skills through finding many different types of invertebrates, just in one day, including ants and termites! Ants and termites are the most important protein source for sun bears in the forest. He is an expert at finding the termite nests mound; Logan will start by destroying the termite mound, digging into the nest and then consuming as many as possible. Logan is playing his part by being a forest doctor and maintaining the termites and wildlife, keeping the trees safe healthy.
Logan is a great climber. He can climb up to 4 to 5 metres. He is an explorer. He will try out every possible tree branch in order to climb a tree and practice holding his balance, even though he does fail often. It is said that, “Practice makes perfect”, which we can see Logan continuing to do, in order to perfect his climbing skills. Logan is a playful and naughty bear. He loves to climb up to the top of a small tree, so that he can bend the tree down to reach the forest floor. The tree is not the only thing that he loves to climb, with his favourite thing to climb being the lianas.
Logan seems to enjoy being in the water. He knows how to easily find the water and loves to soak his body with the water. Before he goes into the water, he will check and take a look at the water level at the stream side. He will not enter the water when it is too high, as sometimes it is even taller than him! Nonetheless, he attempt to search in another site that will have water ponds or a river for him to enjoy. Soaking his body in water is a must for Logan, for every time he is in the forest. On days that it rains, Logan will become hyperactive with pure enjoyment; water is a simple pleasure that could make a bear happier in the forest.
Many people will ask what a sun bear will do when encountering another animal: Logan has encountered with the macaques before and immediately became alert as well as slightly insecure. He ran to the surrogate mother, which is a natural for a bear cub wanting to get protection from the mother bear. He stayed close to the caretaker and checked the surroundings as he remained close to his surrogate Mother. He gave a warning bark to the macaques when the individuals would come close, as he felt threatened and will try to retreat from them again.
Logan is thriving daily, with his improvement becoming more and more evident. He is more confident in the forest, which is key for the rest of Logan’s journey here at BSBCC. We hope this is the start of the road to Logan’s freedom and eventual reintroduction back into the forest. This is the biggest hope for a bear, to be reintroduced back to their real home where he belongs.
Text by Ng Kang Yew Photos by Chiew Lin May & Seng Yen Wah
Hi I'm Ng, a typical Malaysian who lives in a big city known as Petaling Jaya, and also working as landscaper.
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.
The staffs over the Sun Bear Centre are awesome too. You sure do get entertained by them because they will pop out with many spontaneous jokes in no time and thus lighten your days. They have been so helpful the whole time as well. If there are any questions and assists needed, they will help you selflessly. There are too many stories to share and I really am thankful for everything they have done for us to make us as part of their family.
So, will you spend your next vacation for a cause? You choose it.
Text by Seng Yen Wah Photos by Chiew Lin May & Seng Yen Wah
We are the two little bear cubs, Logan and Romolina
Logan and Romolina are the bear cubs we have at BSBCC. Both of them are estimated at eight months old. Even though the same age, Romalina has permanent teeth and canines, whereas Logan still has his milk teeth and canines, with a curved shaped jaw. Logan has a bigger body size than Romalina, due to the gender difference. Both of these cubs have come to BSBCC with a different story.
Logan is a male bear cub. He was found at Lokan River, Kulu-Kulu Village in Sabah. When he first arrived, Logan was small and skinny, with the owner claiming that Logan was abandoned during the crossing of a large river with his Mother, leaving his left front paw maggoty and hairless. As a result, his left front paw has developed abnormally. The owner surrendered him, after keeping him for roughly three months, to the Sabah Wildlife Department (SWD) on 19th of May 2018, who sent Logan to BSBCC on the same day.
Romolina is a female bear cub. She was kept as a pet for roughly three months at Romol Village, Sapulut. The villager surrendered her after Bob Hartley and Virgil Joon Gunting negotiated with the villager. They sent her to the SWD who the transferred her to BSBCC on 7th of July 2018. As these bears are of such similar ages, we decided to brighten their day and integrate the bear cubs. Logan is a friendly bear. He is curious about the presence of other bears and wants to get close and initiate play fighting with his new friends. Romolina decided to make things difficult. Romolina is more attached with humans and this integration was the first time she became close to another bear. She started to defend herself by vocalizing and tries to give a warning to Logan, as she felt insecure. However, Logan is brave and playful, therefore tries his best to get to know about Romolina despite her insecurity.
First met up for Logan and Romolina!
Romolina shows alert with the presence of Logan.
The day starts to get better. Romolina still uses her vocalisations, but only to warn Logan that she does not like his methods of play. However both bears show that they enjoy playing with each other through their soft biting and pawing. They spent more time playing in the hammock than on the ground. Time on the ground was spent chasing and running after each other within the enclosure, just like the characters from the cartoon “Tom and Jerry”. Both bears fill each other’s times with fun and excitement, showing they really enjoy being around each other.
They are playing on the circle platform.
Soft biting is one of the bear playing ways!
Time to play fight!
Pacing has shown to be one of the stress-related behaviour. This stress-related behaviour may have been caused by the bear’s past life, especially if kept within small cages such as Romolina. When they are integrated, Logan will interrupt Romolina’s pacing which has helped to reduce her stress-related behaviours and time spent performing them. This has shown to be an alternative way and also the best way to help her! Logan and Romolina have been sharing food together but only when it is not Romolina’s favourite food, corn. Romolina wants all the corn to herself and will give Logan a warning if he tries to take her corn away. Other than that, sharing the food has been successful. Sometimes they fight but it will not affect their friendship. We really hope Logan and Romolina can grow up happily together, gain the courage and strength to return to the forest together!
Text by Seng Yen Wah Photos by Chiew Lin May & Seng Yen Wah
Romolina has just finished her 30 day submission to quarantine! She is settling in well at BSBCC. A full body check-up has been conducted by Dr.Nabila Sarkawi who is a veterinarian from Sabah Wildlife Department. Based on the growth condition of her teeth, we found out she is an estimated age of six months instead of four months old. This is because some of her current teeth which have grown through recently, are now permanent and her adult teeth. Romolina was found alone in the forest before being kept as a pet at Romol Village, Sapulut, in the interior division of Sabah, where she lived her life in a small cage. She was rescued by Bob Hartley and Virgil Joon Gunting, who had found out that a villager was keeping Romolina as a pet. They intended to rescue her so they negotiated with the villager who agreed to hand the young cub over to them. The villager said that he/she had kept Romolina for a duration of roughly three months and fed her sausages, porridge and fruits. The improper diet caused Romolina to have a smaller body size. Now that she is being fed a proper, nutritious diet in the care of BSBCC and she now weighs 8.8kg.
Romolina seems to be attached to humans. When the caretakers are not around, she will suckle and vocalize to seek comfort and safety. Romolina had lost her mother bear, therefore we now have keepers as her surrogate mother. What can the surrogate mother do? Keepers will spend time and play fight with her. Play fighting could teach her how to defend herself. Defence skills is one of the most important survival skills for the bear’s natural rainforest habitats, which can protect themselves from predators. Besides the companionship from the keepers, Romalina has also been introduced to many types of enrichments to use throughout her days. Enrichment is a common name for the bears TOYs which can stimulate the action of natural behaviours that we would observe in non-captive Sunbears. Romolina is having different enrichments from day to day! But, her favourite toy is the warm, soft and comfy towel! Romolina is a detailed explorer. She will spend a lot of time exploring the enrichments made for her. Thanks to the care taker, Jeniur who made her a circle platform. She loves to sleep up there. Before sleeping Romalina will adjust and fidget until she finds the perfect spot to fall asleep and snooze like a baby!
Romolina is a curious bear who explores her environment through continuous sniffing. She loves milk and also loves to keep the milk on her body, by soaking her body in the milk tray. But she does not enjoy her body being too wet and fur remaining damp. Romolina is a good climber. She always climbs up and down to search and explore her environment. She is always very observant to her current surroundings and will keep checking and watching events that happen around her.
Romolina has lacked a mother’s love since young age, which makes her feel insecure. The way to help her is integrating her with other bears; making a bear friend can allow them to learn from each other and spend time together. The best enrichment of a bear is another bear! We are looking forward to the integration between her and her bear friend Logan, and hope they will get along well. The cute and lovely friendship is already starting to form between these two little bears. Please stay tuned for the updates to the start of this wonderful friendship! With the help of her friend Logan, the care of keepers and the love from you all, we hope Romolina will grow to into a real bear!
Text by Jessamine Thong Jiah Kher Photos by Jessamine Thong Jiah Kher, Chiew Lin May & Seng Yen Wah
HI WORLD!~~ (with a very high pitch voice) hahhaha Ok… that’s a bit annoying, sorry…
Anyways, hi! I’m Jessamine Thong who is taking a Diploma in Animal Health and Production programme in the University Putra Malaysia Kampus Bintulu, Sarawak (UPMKB) and I’m here to share this my journey of undergoing an internship in BSBCC.
To be honest, I had no idea bears even existed in Malaysia before working with BSBCC and right on the first day, the friendliest team of bear care coordinators fed me all the facts on sun bears, and I was quite lost, but well, we learn don’t we?
So, my internship lasted for 2 and a half months and well, it was unexpectedly wonderful! Sun Bears! Wow! Why not?! They are Beautiful! But what really made BSBCC beautiful is how the staff and volunteers really care. Let’s get on with my adventure shall we? Well, if you’re undergoing a volunteer programme or an internship, the centre would always assign a buddy to you! Having a buddy is a wonderful idea as it feels like you have someone that can be close to you when you’re new. They would be like an additional family member that you never knew of! They’ll teach you, guide you and take the fullest care of you during your time there. So who’s my buddy? Well, it’s the legendary senior bear keeper DAVID TAHIR. He taught me a lot from the first day I came, until the day I left. From cleaning cages to making creative enrichments, there’s just nothing he can’t do. Best buddy ever!
I had learnt a lot thanks to you David, my buddy!
What did I like most, during the whole internship? Well, if I had to choose… it’s definitely going to be building enrichments! Yup, building is so much FUN! And the feeling of achievement after you have finished and knowing that the bear really enjoyed their new play equipment, there were just no words to describe the joy that I felt.
Well, I love building things and thanks for involving me on building these wonderful enrichments!
There was lots of events going on during my time there, and one of the favourite was of course, SUN BEAR DAY (16 May 2018) – Making a lot of enrichments and also getting involved in giving visitors a good old hands-on experience in making these enrichments.
Bjorn Hala – ‘Bear Home’ This is actually a house where the staffs and volunteers live during their time here. This brings me back to the first day I’ve arrived. Andy, the ‘manager’ of Bjorn Hala: I’m so sorry that my bag was super heavy, I’ve no idea what made it that heavy but thanks for helping me with it! And also the Bjorn Hala family, thanks for welcoming me warmly, and make me feel at home.
-Bojrn Hala Family portrait – From the left, Mizuno, Andy, Wawa, Becca, Jasmine, Jessamine and Jeniur
- Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre Family – Dr. Wong’s and his wonderful team of ‘Sun Bears’
Some bears in BSBCC
All the bears and people I have met here, as well as all the love and care they shared, the food they fed, the unexpected experience they gave me, are unreplaceable and memories I will hold forever. Thanks for taking me out on so many adventures and this unforgettable experience. That’s quite all from me. Curious on what made my internship so unique? Just come here and experience what I had, what all the other volunteers and interns had, then you’ll know, why it’s gonna be one of the best part of your life. Trust me, there will be no regrets!
Text by Jonas Bolin Photos by Chiew Lin May & Seng Yen Wah
Hello! My name is Jonas Bolin and I am 18 years old and live in Sweden. I am right now studying to become an animal keeper and will graduate this spring. I was one of the lucky few to get the opportunity to do my internship at bsbcc which I am so grateful for. This trip was going to be the biggest adventure of my life and I could not be more excited about it. However, this was one of the most incredible journeys I have ever imagined and I was planning to gather so much experience.
I am right now at the end of my internship at bsbcc which of course is very sad, but when I look back at my time here I could not resist to smile. These five weeks has been so incredible and I have earned more experience than I could imagine. However, the first two weeks was mostly focused of learning the routines for me. It is always so many new things to learn wherever you go and when they told me to learn all the bears names and identify them I thought they were crazy. I thought it would be hard enough to learn the names of the staff. But after the first two weeks I started to learn all the different behaviours and the characteristic things among the bears, which was a pretty cool feeling if you ask me. But all this was thanks to all the keepers that had patience with me and told me that we learn by mistakes which made me try until I succeeded. It is so inspiring to see all these hard working people and see how much they care for Sun bears. They have taught me a lot about Sun bears and its importance to the ecosystem here in Borneo and what we have to do to make sure they can survive in the wild. I cannot thank these guys enough and I wish them the best of luck in the future because they are some of the best people I have met in my hole life. One moment I will remember for a long time is meeting the founder of bsbcc Dr. Wong Siew Te. He is such an inspiring man who care so much for the animals and their environment. I have a feeling that he has started something big that will lead to a new level of animal caretaking in many places of the world.
So during my weeks I have as I said gathered so much experience. I have so much work experience which I will bring me for my whole life and my future carer. What is more is that I have gathered even more life experience during this trip which has made me a new person, I can handle so much more than I thought before. I will use all this experience my whole life and make sure to always remember this adventure. But most of all I will remember all the friends I have found down here, even if we cannot make sure that we will see each other again I will always have them in my mind. Of course I will miss the bears as well and they will always have a special place in my heart.
So this adventure was not what I was expecting, it was so much better. I will therefor thank BCBCC and APE Malaysia for making this dream come true. I will miss everything so much and I am really looking forward to see what this centre can become in 10 more years.
Text by Chiew Lin May Photos by Chiew Lin May & Seng Yen Wah
“We always hope this is the last bear taken from the wild and then it happens again; more efforts are needed to STOP this from happening”
Romolina one of our new arrival rescue bear. She is in safe hands at BSBCC now.
A four months old female sun bear cub, Romolina was kept as a pet in a small cage for about three months until a person got knowledge of her and quickly rescued her from a villager by negotiating with them to hand over the bear. The owner claims that he had found the bear cub at forest alone and took her home then kept her as a pet at Kampung Romol, Sapulut, in the interior division of Sabah. Romolina (Rescue No.58) was handed-over to the Sabah Wildlife Department and sent to BSBCC today (7th July 2018). As it is always with sun bears that young, she has been stolen from her mother as a cub and kept as illegal pet that lived her life locked up in tiny cage. We are not sure exactly what happened to Romolina’s mother, but we know a mother would not abandon her baby alone in the forest. She is now safe in our care and will go through routine quarantine. She will be given a full medical checkup. Thankfully she was rescued, and we are thankful to the responsible person who saved her life.
Another rescued sun bear - victims of the illegal pet
A life saved!
Unloading Romolina from the truck and transferring her to quarantine.
Romolina steps out of her cage and moves into her new comfy, large den. Getting her first taste of a second chance at freedom at the centre.
This is the second orphaned sun bear that was rescued in 2018 and given into our care. Sun bears are under serious threat in the wild. This is worrying as it shows that poaching is still happening out there with the rampant sale of sun bears as pets or illegal bear bile medicine, and this will bring sun bears on the brink of extinction soon.
Please remember that a sun bears should never be been taken away from their mothers in the wild and kept as illegal pets. We need to continue our fight for the survival of this species by ending the cruel demand for bear parts, and by strengthening wildlife laws and enforcement. Let’s PROTECT them, before it is too late!