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New Straits Times, 12th July 2013
SANDAKAN: Zumba enthusiasts helped raise more than RM7,000 for the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre (BSBCC) in a three-hour fun event here recently.More than 300 people turned up for this dance fitness workout marathon at the Sabah Hotel last Saturday, paying RM50 each.
The funds raised are needed to meet the monthly operational costs and food for the sun bears which run to an average of RM10,000.
The event was initiated by zumba instructor Fay De Vera, who wanted to do something for the 28 sun bears that were under the care of the BSBCC which is located next to the Sepilok Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre.
"I have seen how hard the staff at BSBCC work and their care for the sun bears in order to protect the species. So I decided to help through what I know best and that is zumba.
"I believe everyone who showed up love sun bears and that is why they supported the event."
De Vera, who became a zumba instructor a year ago, said the workout promote healthy living and could be used as an avenue to raise money for charitable causes.
BSBCC founder and chief executive officer Wong Siew Te said De Vera's effort was a fine example of how the public could contribute to help the sun bears.
"Being a zumba instructor, she approached us about this fund-raising idea and we agreed to hold it."
Sun bears, which are the smallest of the world's eight bear species, play an important role in the forest ecology as it disperses seeds and maintains the overall equilibrium.
These animals are precious and are at risk of becoming endangered as the current population in Borneo remains unknown.
They are classified as a totally protected species under the Sabah Wildlife Conservation Enactment 1997.
Wong said habitat loss, poaching for parts used in traditional medicine and the pet trade, were among key threats that have led to a 30 per cent decline of the sun bear population.