Text by Chiew Lin May
Photos by Mizuno Merek Men, Jeniur Justin & Chiew Lin May
Bark Bark Hooray!
The BEST of the world!
Superb thanks to our lovely keepers and intern students still here love the bears; help enrich the lives and making sure they are healthy and safe during these challenging times.
Sun bears love go up in different enrichment. With some treats they are happy to check and destroy them out. Enrichment is an important part of daily husbandry at our centre. We would be extremely grateful for any kind donations. No matter is social, cognitive, physical habitat, sensory and food enrichment -they LOVE them all!!
Video by Chiew Lin May
Did you remember Kuamut?
Rescued by Sabah Wildlife Department in January 2009. At the time of her rescue, she was found had a 2kg of heavy metal chain with a brass lock tied on her’s neck. Kuamut was given medical treatment and care needs to help her regain strength and trust.
We are happy to see her grow into confidence and live a happy life of freedom bear now. Here Kuamut would like to tell you about her life and journey to freedom at BSBCC. Donate today and help the rescued bears during this unprecedented crisis.
Please share her story!
Text by Chiew Lin May
The impact of the coronavirus disease, COVID-19, is being felt all over the world. We are all going through a challenging time. We have been closed to the public to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19. But, we must continue to provide care and protect our 43 rescued sun bears housed at the BSBCC from this spread which could affect their health and welfare.
Where did the COVID-19 come from? The illegal wildlife trade is a major threat in the world. Sun bears are listed as Vulnerable to Extinction by the IUCN. Illegal poaching activities are clearly a chronic threat to the wildlife.
Sun bears are often killed and their infants are taken to markets to be sold for traditional medicine use, food and the exotic pet trade.
The rising demand for traditional Asian medicine also has put pressure on the sun bear survival.
All threats must be eliminated to protect the endangered sun bear. But when we destroy their forest home, and poach them for wildlife market uses, viruses such as COVID-19 can be turned out.
We are serious need STOPPING illegal trafficking and killing of wildlife. Wildlife play important ecological roles in the forest ecosystem.
You can help prevent the spread of diseases and also stop pushing many endangered species to the brink of extinction!
The road to fighting this COVID-19 may not be easy, but together, we hope you will make a difference to create a brighter future for sun bears and other wildlife, keep them safe in their natural habitat and protect the earth we all share.
Do your part.
Please stay safe!
Video by Chiew Lin May
A three months old female bear cub was rescued by someone nearby Maliau Basin with the intention of saving her then surrender to the Sabah Wildlife Department.
Since her arrival, she has stolen our hearts. Pet trade is one of the threats to the sun bear. Kala had a rough start life stolen from the wild. Check out this video what Kala is trying to speak out.
Kala and her friends need your help to give them a brighter future – a future with a pot of honey, a healthy diet, love, and medical care that they can get their paws on! Please consider a donation to help give the care of one sun bear today. Please share her story!
Video by Chiew Lin May
"Sniffing out honey bee nests,
Digging for termites,
Climbing on favourite trees,
Develop my survival skills!" - Logan, the Sun bear
Stay Safe . Stay home . Stay healthy
Text by Ezi Nurayu binti Abd. Wahab (UMS Intern student)
Photos by Seng Yen Wah & Chiew Lin May
The time to do fence training for BJ, Soo, Kina and Sika before they could be released into the forest enclosure had come. Fence training is very important for us to do as it helps to prevent the sun bears from escaping in the forest either to another pen or out of BSBCC’s area. Not to worry as the fence voltage will never be harmful to them because it is always controllable by our respective staff. The bears will proceed to enter the forest enclosure only if they pass the fence training. These fence training sessions are completed almost every day for roughly a month.
First and foremost, let me briefly explain the history of these four bears. Kina, is rescue bear (55), followed by Sika (56), Soo (57) and BJ (61). When referring to Kina’s name, we know that she was from Kinarut District, Sika was from the village of Sikalabaan in Pensiangan district, Soo’s name was given by her previous owner because she was bought from Sook Keningau Market, and lastly BJ was from Pitas before he was handed to Lok Kawi Wildlife Park when he just five months old. All of them were kept as pets by the villagers before being rescued.
Okay, let’s begin with Sika. She was the first candidate among the four of them which we did the fence training with. But, unfortunately she was the last one who passed the fence training. On her first day of training, she was very cautious to step on the ramp to get the food. She almost finished her food (only a few pieces were left). Unfortunately, she got zapped later by the hotwire and she responded by climbing the fence. You can see in the picture (Photo 1) below how she got zapped by the hotwire. But then, Sika improved day by day. The days before she successfully passed the fence training, she already knew about the hotwire, so she kept her distance from it. She also ate the food which was placed on the ramp. She was the last candidate declared as passed because she kept avoiding going close to the food near the hotwire on her last days before she was considered passed.
Let’s move to Kina, the brave girl. She is a very good explorer when it comes to food (a little bit of a big eater). The day we observed them as a group, she was the very dominant one by monopolising the food. She already knew from training each day how to grab the food without touching the electric fence, even though the food was located underneath the fence. Maybe, because she already got zapped on her first day of training and days after, she knew how to defend herself from getting zapped later. Kina together with BJ always finished the food in the training pen. By the way, she was the second one after Soo that successfully passed in this fence training session and on March 29th, 2020, she was released into the forest enclosure (Pen G).
Congratulations to our, Kina!
Next, our one and only male bear in this group, BJ. On BJ’s first day carrying out fence training, he was really scared to walk and get his food. You can see in the picture (Photo 6) below how he tried to grab his food. He always laid down to grab his food. A few times, his front legs touched the top ramp. He never touched the ramp with all four legs at once. He was very cautious with his new and unfamiliar surroundings. So as a result for his first day, he never got zapped due to his cautious behaviour. However, this originally cautious bear became braver each day, especially when the four of them were released into the training pen together. He knew how to get his food and never hesitated to walk on the ramp and below ground as well with his four legs.
Good job, BJ
And the last bear being observed was Soo. Pity for Soo, on her first time being trained, she got zapped on several occasions. Her response to the zap was barking a few times. Gradually she became more alert to the electric fence, even though most of the time she rarely got out from her cage. But, she still went out to the training pen sometimes to get her food. Guess what, surprisingly Soo became braver recently. Even with the guillotine door closed, Soo and Kina never cared about that. They still continued their beautiful journey in the training pen by only thinking about the food. Big applause to Soo, even though she was the very inactive one during several days in observation (spent most of the time in her cage), lately a plot twist has happened, and the upshot of that is she was the first one to successfully pass the fence training session.
Bravos to Sika, Kina, BJ and Soo! Welcome to your new world!
This is the time for them to explore the outside environment on their own and be independent. I am so sure that this is what every animal wants. They can move in a much larger area compared to their cage and see the bright world. Fence training is never as bad as some people think. This is a crucial step before giving the bears their ‘dream world’.
Text by Cameron Watson
Photos by Chiew Lin May
When I started my volunteering at BSBCC, I had no idea quite how quickly these 2 weeks would fly in. It has been a great experience in all regards, from the beauty of the animals themselves to the camaraderie of the team and of course how rewarding the actual work is. If anyone is an animal lover or has a concern for conservation and an urge to do something about it, then I couldn’t recommend this program more.
My only real concern before starting was that this would be a bit of a fad and that the volunteers would be given fairly petty cleaning jobs, while the keepers actually got on with the real work. This was far from the case! We were very much in the thick of the work from beginning to end which is exactly how it should be. You will work up a sweat on a daily basis. The day begins with more functional tasks such as preparing food and cleaning the bear house, before the afternoon which brings more creative enrichment work to encourage the bear’s natural behaviours. This is a great day split as you really get a bit of both and the pace is never too slow.
The staff here are all very supportive and great banter. The keeper I was paired with – Danny – was amazing at showing me the ropes but also at explaining the reasoning behind the things they were doing, which was amazing. Being told the thinking behind each activity really highlights how what you are doing is making a difference in a bear’s rehabilitation, whether it be the different meals prepared to fit the individual bear’s diets, or the way the enrichment toys we make parallel what the bears would encounter in the wild.
This brings us on to the focal point and most rewarding thing at BSBCC – the bears themselves! There is no better feeling than watching a bear demolish an enrichment you have just put together and knowing that this is bringing them one step closer to release into the wild. During my time I was lucky enough to see and record Sika – a young 2 year old – taking her first steps out of the bear house and into the outside world. Before being rescued and brought to BSBCC, she had been kept illegally in a cage in a house and watching her take her first step outside is a moment that will stay with me forever. It felt truly special to be a part of. It is moments like these that will make your time at BSBCC truly worthwhile and beautifully emotional. You will leave, like me, with a better awareness and an urge to do more.
I would therefore recommend this program to anyone who’s not afraid to put in good work that will actually make a difference. You will get attached to the bears and learn their names and personalities. Hearing that the centre plans to release 4 bears this year brings a smile to my face and makes all the work worth it. It’s a great program for the volunteer, but a better one for the bears themselves.