Text by Paul Clenton
This is Om. He’s a great bear, if you pardon the pun. Om is very playful and loves playing with his tyres and other toys. This can get rather noisy but he seems to enjoy it. He is also very fond of his sleeping basket and will spend quite a bit of time there if he is not biting, clawing, twisting or tearing whatever else he manages to claim.
One thing he doesn’t do much, for a sun bear, is climb. I decided to remedy this by giving him something to motivate him to get up off the ground. We are not permitted to go around willy-nilly cutting down trees for the bears’ amusement as the forest around us is of great value. Fortunately however, I knew just the thing.
Not far away, alongside a trail in the jungle, at tree had recently been brought down by heavy rains. I had already salvaged parts from it to make climbing structures for Natalie and knew that what remained was certainly an “Om-sized” piece of wood. So off I went with my Swiss army knife to sort out something for Om’s amusement.
It was big, bulky and rather heavy for me to handle on my own. Nevertheless, by removing all the obstructions around it and rocking it about a pivot point halfway along, I managed to gradually inch it out of the place where it had fallen and get it onto the trail. Once on the trail things got better, although the vegetation was still hindering me slightly; even on its side, this chunk of tree was still taller than I was.
After a considerable amount of effort and a greater amount of grunting and swearing i managed to get it out of the forest and down to the quarrantine area. It was there that I was met by Seana, a Malaysian volunteer, who was attracted to the area by sounds of “something not human” in the jungle. That made me laugh.
Anyway, she helped me get it down to the bear house and the next day it was put up in one of the pens Om uses. Getting it in was quite a game as it was over 3.8 metres in length; if it were another 2 inches long it would have not been able to fit in at all. Once it was in it was secured with rope and drilled with holes for enrichment.
It gave me great satisfaction afterwards to see Om enjoying this new structure and he certainly seemed enthusiastic about the mashed banana I’d hidden too. Quite an effort, but well worth it. Enjoy, Om!
PS. With the exception of 2 cuts, I managed to dismember the entire tree using the saw attachment on my Victorinox Swiss army knife!