Text by Kimberly Louise Tam
Photos by Seng Yen Wah & Chiew Lin May
My name is Kimberly Louise Tam, 19 years old, Malaysian and am planning to pursue a degree in the veterinary field. I first visited BSBCC during a field trip organized by Monash and found out that they offered volunteering opportunities. I decided to spend some time volunteering after finishing my A Levels to gain some experience in the field and also get to know more about the sun bears that belong to my homeland, Sabah.
At the beginning of the whole experience, I was very nervous of what I was getting myself into. I remember having to wipe the sweat off my palms because I was so nervous during the interview. I was also very worried about travelling to a foreign place and not knowing anybody there. However, all my worries melted away when I arrived. The staff were incredibly welcoming and immediately treated me as one of them the first day I was there. They made sure I was well taken care of and understood everything that was going on. It made me feel very welcomed and also made me gain a new sense of respect for how well run the organization is.
Our daily routines are sort of like this: You wake up at 7am. Go to work at 8am. Morning tasks until 12.30pm. Lunch break until 2. Enrichment activities until 5pm then go home. Morning tasks will depend on what you are arranged to do for the day, it may be cleaning either Bear House 1 or Bear House 2, food preparations, fence checking. There are tons of enrichment activities but my personal favorite was feeding the bears ice blocks. Ice blocks are fruits frozen in honey water and they help keep the bears cool.
We went for a little hike to look for termite nests. It was tiring having to carry the heavy nests back but totally worth it when you get to see how much the bears enjoy their termites. I also helped build Olivia Tower which is a wooden platform for the bears to climb and also provides shelter. That was really hard work as it involved hand drilling and a lot of sawing. I did not get to see the bears interaction with the tower but I am sure they enjoyed it.
On my last day, I felt sad that I had to say goodbye to all the friends that I have made and the bears. I am really grateful to have met such kind people who are so dedicated to their work and the purpose of the foundation. I hope that one day I will return to BSBCC and be able to help out again!