When you look into the eyes of a rescued sun bear cub, the sad truth is that sun bears are in grave danger of extinction in the wild which is led by a decline in at least 30 percent of the sun bear population in the last three decades. Sun bears live in their natural habitat, they learn all of the basic skills needed to survive. Ongoing habitat loss, poaching and illegal pet trade continues to be the biggest threat to wild bear populations in Southeast Asia.
Found in the backyard of an inn, where she had been illegally kept as pet. Her previous owner purchased her from a friend in Ranau, a town on the west coast of Sabah and named her “Ooi”. Instead of learning to be a sun bear, she had been caged, lonely, fed an inappropriate diet and exploited to fulfill human selfishness. Unfortunately, we do not know what happened to little Loki’s mother. This horrific life was all she had ever known. Loki was rescued by Sabah Wildlife Department and sent to Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre (BSBCC) on March 24th, 2014. Loki is a very special sun bear cub and thanks to Steve Denim who is passionate about changing the life of captive sun bears by adopting her and named her “Loki” in memory of his cat that was struck by a car.
When she first arrived at BSBCC, her paws and canines appeared too big for her tiny body. Due to the emotional trauma that resulted from her being kept as a pet, she was very stressed, pacing and showing signs of malnutrition, dehydration and severe diarrhea. Raising a sun bear cub requires extensive round-the-clock care with a balanced diet which comprises of fruits and protein, and exercise to help her grow strong and build confidence! After a thorough checkup, she began the long but hopeful journey of care and rehabilitation. Without the comfort of her mother, she was still traumatized to feel safe. When she was alone, she paced a lot.
Little Loki is given different kinds of enrichment to improve her well-being by encouraging her to climb and exercise as much as possible. She lacked all of the basic forest skills. It did not look as if she was improving greatly over the first couple of weeks because she did not trust her care taker. However, things are going positive and Loki has grown to be happy and has become more comfortable when we introduce new bear friends to her. “The best enrichment for a bear is another bear” – Dr. Wong Siew Te (BSBCC Founder & CEO). They have built up a firm friendship that has lasted until this day! Every minute of every day, they love wrestling, play fighting and hanging out together. It was exciting to see her begin her new life with other bears!
Loki and her friends have been moved from Quarantine to the Bear House for further rehabilitation process. We know that there will be a second chance for Loki – in large green tropical rainforests with tall trees, as she goes digging for termites, climbing trees, sniffing for bee nests, enjoying the cool breeze, running around, and wrestled from the forest floor...like a wild bear! On December 5th, 2015 Loki was nervous in taking her first brave steps into a new environment after she spent a long time inside a cage. It was hard for Loki to imagine her life could change and be a free sun bear in the wild. She made her way over to dense vegetation and straight away learnt to live in the trees.
For a three year old, sub adult female bear, Loki has made tremendous progress during her rehabilitation time at BSBCC. She is always enthusiastic about exploring new things around the forest and she proved to us that she is an exceptional tree climber and can build arboreal nests. She adores her forest and spends most of the time learning vital skills in the forest canopy with her playmates. She has acquired many of the survival skills that she needs in order to survive in the wild!
We are so thrilled that little Loki is growing in confidence, active and an independent female bear. She was never able to experience learning survival skills with her mother, but at least she finds absolute delight with the good things in life. She is starting to put her past behind her and is learning to be a wild bear again. We hope Loki will one day be released back into the rainforest of Borneo where she belongs.