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Text by Eileen Nyeow @ Yau Yee Ling
Photos by Chiew Lin May
Hello… my name is Eileen Nyeow. I am 42 years old and currently residing in Peninsular Malaysia. Participating in Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre (BSBCC) Volunteer Programme was part of my mission, during my sabbatical, towards doing my little bit to help save animals. The main reason I chose BSBCC was because of the Founder, Dr. Wong Siew Te. I have read about his passion and relentless effort towards helping and preserving the Sun Bears; and was inspired to come see and experience for myself what BSBCC is all about.
This was the first volunteer programme where I had to be interviewed (before being accepted) & to obtain a full health check before flying over. Upon arriving, I went through an induction session where I was briefed with more rules of conduct. I realized and understood the need for that measure after. BSBCC is situated right smack in the middle of the rain forest in Sepilok; surrounded by other wild animals (i.e. orang utans, elephants, snakes, squirrels). Health check was necessary so that we do not pass on any diseases to the animals. Volunteering here involves much physical work so one has to be somewhat prepared. Lastly, the bears within the Centre are all waiting for a second chance in the wild and it is of grave importance that the bears do not get overly habituated with people.
My buddy keeper during my Programme was Bithrenly (a.k.a Bit). Although fairly new with the Centre, he managed to share many of his experiences and stories about the bears with me. Among the many tasks with him, my daily routine usually revolves around preparing food for the bears (4 feedings in a day), cleaning poop and scrubbing enclosures, checking the perimeters of the enclosure fence, making enrichment projects for the bears to play and sharpen their skills. I also had many valuable instances, such as group Q&A session with the “Bear Man” himself, Dr. Wong, assisting the vet (Dr. Boon) during a routine medical check for Julaini. I mean there are not many non-field related people who can say they have use a thermometer on a bear. Hahaha! I even learnt and got to inspect bear poop for parasites! ><
In summary, I am thankful for this valuable experience and I feel privileged to be there, with everyone.
Being amazed with efforts of BSBCC in preserving the Sun Bears is one thing, learning hands-on about the smallest bear in the world is another. On top of it, I was also truly amazed with the dedicated members of BSBCC (office staff and bear keepers). One can feel their enthusiasm and love for the bears emanating from them.
There are many people to thank for making my journey an unforgettable one. Instead of naming and possibly missing out names, I would like to just extend a huge shout out of appreciation to the BSBCC FAMILY! I hope to see all of you very soon.