A group of six staff members from Tradewinds Plantation Berhad visited BSBCC on November 3rd, 2017. Dr. Wong Siew Te brought them for a tour around the observation platforms to see the bears in the forest enclosure. This company has also adopted three of our sun bears under the My Bear Adoption Programme, named Jelita, Linggam and Simone. Adopting a bear is a great way to learn about sun bears while helping BSBCC meet the costs of rehabilitation. Funds raised by the adoption program are used to better the lives of all bears. Thank you for your visit and the support!
Dr. Wong explaining the sun bear's behavior in the forest.
Observing sun bears in the forest enclosure from the observation platform.
Dr. Wong receiving a mock-cheque from Mr. Charles Chow Kok Cheng, Senior General Manager of Tradewinds Plantation Berhad.
Text by Fetysella Olyndra Juli Photos by Chiew Lin May
Everyone of these three bears has their own history, especially Simone and Along, both of them were kept in a Mini Zoo Hot Springs in Tawau while Kudat was kept on display in a private mini zoo with another female sun bear named Panda. Kudat was formerly named after the district of Kudat even though he originally is from Tawau. Along is a 6 year old male bear, Simone is a 8 year old female bear, and Kudat is 7 years old adult male sun bear. Kudat, Simone and Along were then surrendered by the Sabah Wildlife Department to the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre (BSBCC).
Upon arrival at the BSBCC, the three bears showed their different personalities, where Along is considered to be more energetic and hyperactive, Simone is calm while, Kudat on the other side can sometimes be aggressive towards other bears, as has happened in the past when integrated with another female sun bear Panda. But Kudat is also playful even though he plays rough. Since all three bears are kept in the same row of cages, at first, we integrated Along and Simone. Along becomes somewhat hyperactive when meeting with Simone and at times he will start to pace back and forth at a fast rate when Simone is in the same room.
Along tries to approach Simone, but Simone is aware of Along behavior
During the integration process interactions between Along and Simone became more and more aggressive, so the decision was made, to slow down the integration intervals. After possible times of no aggression Simone tries to play with Along, which will result in likelihood of Along developing aggressiveness towards Simone due to her manor of play. Sometimes Simone will be the aggressor and we realized that, as Along pacing can not be interrupted as long as Simone is in the same cage. The occurrence of any kind of aggression therefore is unpredictable.
“Hey, look at my canine”-Along “Here’s mine RAWWR”-Simone
“This is how I play” *bite*-Simone “Hey you. It’s too rough”-Along
Then, we decided to integrate Simone with Kudat. The first results of the integration process were positive, both bears played together, even though Kudat play very known to be rough. The first time Kudat met Simone, he started to sniff Simone first especially her sex organs. Realizing that Simone is a female sun bear, Kudat became excited and begin to play with her. We have been having integration sessions for a few days and so far no aggression occurred.
Kudat meet Simone for the first time “Hmm? Hey there, who are you?”-Kudat “OH!!! There’s another bear here?”-Simone
Then, we proceeded on to our next mission, which was the integration of Kudat and Along. First we were quite concerned, because both are male sun bears, and aggressive behavior is more likely to happen. Surprisingly, both Along and Kudat got along well, Kudat approached Along and sniffed him out first. Then, Kudat try to play with Along. Along struggled at first a bit, because of Kudat rough play. However, after some time, Along got used to it. After a few days of integration sessions between Along and Kudat, no aggression occurred.
Along and Kudat meet for the first time. “Hey there buddy. Let’s play” *show canine*-Kudat
Along tries to show Kudat that he also can play rough. “You’re a tough cookie”-Kudat
Along is playing by pushing Kudat down
Now, our final task is to introduce Simone into the group. First, we placed Along and Kudat in the same cage. Then, we opened Simones cage to get access to the males. At first, when Simone entered the cage (where Along and Kudat were playing), she did not pay attention, she just passed by. But we realized that even with Simone present, Along did not start to pace and continued to play with Kudat. Once he stop playing with Kudat, Along showed positive results towards both Simone and Kudat. This process continued for quite some time and there was aggression noticed. It seems that the presence of Kudat affects the situation between Along and Simone, but when we fed the bears coconuts during their integration session, Simone showed to be the dominant in the group. This may be due to Simone being the oldest in the group. In the end, we hope that, these three bears can continue to integrate well and can go out to forest enclosure together in the future.
Along, a 6 year old male bear and Simone, an 8 year old female bear, are the newest arrivals at BSBCC. Both of them were kept in a Mini Zoo and Hot Springs in Tawau. In the January of 2016, they were surrendered to the Sabah Wildlife Department and were quarantined at Lok Kawi Zoo, Kota Kinabalu.
Hi, My name is Simone.
Along and Simone arrived on the same day. Along the journey, the hot weather and long hours meant they had gone through a lot in a same day. When Along first arrived at BSBCC, he was pacing aggressively inside the cage and kept barking at people, especially when they went close to him. Compared to Along, Simone was much calmer. Bear keepers used a lot of effort to move them to our cages. Now BSBCC is their new home.
I love my new home!!
In the very first week, the bear house was still a very new and strange place for them. Most of the time they stayed on the basket. They were very alert, especially Along. When people got close to Along, he would give them a warning bark and showed aggressiveness. Simone adapted faster than Along in this new environment. She likes to explore the enrichment. Before they were here, bear keepers prepared enrichment for them such as dry leaves and decayed wood. Simone shows a lot of curiosity and interest in the enrichment.
I love the smell of dried leaves.
My enrichment, dead wood.
All this enrichment is mine. Thanks Bear Keeper.
Besides that, they had no appetite in the beginning. This may be because we serve foods which are different than what they usually have and they were still very alert with the environment. Hence, we started to introduce different foods to them like nicely cut papaya, watermelon and so on. Lastly, we found out that both of them like to drink oats with milk. When we brought them the tray, they climbed down from the basket and waited for you and it’s their favourite food as well. Besides that, Simone loves honey. Conversely, Along likes coconut. Along likes to spend his time opening the coconut. When he swapped cage with Simone, he ate Simone’s coconut too. Simone did not mind her coconut being eaten by Along.
Oh, my coconut is here. I got a little bit busy with my coconut.
Now they have a good appetite. Along appears less aggressive. He spends more time exploring the environment through staying on the ground with dry leaves and dead woods. Simone spends most of her time on the enrichment. Besides this, she enjoys resting on the basket or sitting on the water container too. Now they are better, Along and Simone are staying happily in BSBCC.