Text by Mohammad Naqiuddin bin Alipudin
Photos by Adrian Damsha Sufri & Seng Yen Wah
Hello everyone! My name is Mohammad Naqiuddin Ali and people call me Nick. I am 20 years old and for the past 2 months, I have been doing my internship here in the BSBCC.
I would say I am very lucky to be given the opportunity to be doing my internship here.
Initially I was so nervous as I have zero experience in working together with so many people, let alone working with sun bears. I’ve never imagined myself assisting in sun bear’s rehabilitation and to look at them really close and getting to know them more. I came here with a lot of expectations and doubts but, as each day went by, I was always showered with words of encouragement by all the staff.
During my time as an intern, I learnt so many things but the greatest lesson I’ve learned is empathy. Hearing how each and every sun bear has it’s own story with humans, some are so traumatised they have permanent complications and develop stereotype behavior which is just so sad. These sun bears were kept illegally as a pet, locked in the smallest cage, fed with improper diet, so when they came to BSBCC they had medical issues like malnutrition and dental problems. These stories made me feel more than just motivated into lending a hand here, as hard as I could, to provide these poor sun bears a better environment for a better life.
Things that I always look forward to everyday would be feeding the bears and making their enrichments. When I first assisted during feeding time, I could see how some of the sun bears are picky over their food and also not really open for sharing. It was funny and cute and I realized how despite having a very frightening bark, long claws, sharp canines, sun bears also have their own adorable side. But, as cute as they can be, they are definitely not a pet and their real home is out there, in the forest, not in our concrete building.
As for their enrichments, I think the sun bears aren’t the only one excited for it because I did too! I’ve always looked forward to enrichment activities every day and I love every second of being together with the staff, making enrichments, getting to know each other and just having fun. I made a lot of enrichments for these sun bears such as the egg tray burger, ginger leaves, stick paradox, nest ball, paper roll and more. I love seeing how these sun bears are so into it when they’re given the enrichments. It is just so amazing seeing these sun bears climbing up the dens to grab those food enrichments or when some of them would play with coconuts or the Aussie dog balls.
I am proud of the structural enrichments that I made; Boat Hammock and Confetti Bomb. I made the Boat Hammock for Simone and the making of it was mostly helped by Roger, Adneen and Marshah. I named it as ‘The Black Pearl’ and I couldn’t have done it alone without their help. Just happy to see Simone climbing up to her boat, being a sailor ready to sail. Although, it was no surprise that The Black Pearl was ‘wrecked’ by Sigalung, Simone’s neighbor, where he bit the rope attached to the hammock just after 3 days of installation. We then moved the hammock to another den where Wawa is staying. She seems to like it too! Every morning when I go to the bear house, I always see her chilling on the boat, sleeping. She even took her food up there.
I made Confetti Bomb for Amaco as I was thinking that he may be feeling bored in his den because he doesn’t want to go out to the forest enclosure. Confetti Bomb is made of a hanging gunny sack filled with dried leaves, honey, dog biscuits and banana. Amaco has to tear the gunny sack to get all these foods, and I think this enrichment is important to him as it encourages exploratory, sensory and foraging behavior. I feel satisfied seeing him eating all of the stuff after his hard work.
At first, it was a bit difficult for me to remember and differentiate every sun bear but as the days went by, I realized that all of them have their own unique chest mark and face shape and it is easier to tell them apart. Witnessing all this made me fall in love with sun bears even more because just like every other animal, they have different behavior, different preferences and each and every one of them is cute in their own way. If I could at least talk to them and they could understand me, I’d tell them to always live well, be strong and I am gonna miss them! I am gonna miss every second of feeding, cleaning the dens, watching their behavior and their cute belly when they lay down.
Lastly, I wanna give a big bunch of thanks and gratitude towards my buddy Roger, who has always been so understanding and considerate in my limitation of doing tough work, my supervisor, Yen Wah who guided me on my first day and made me feel welcome, and not to forget David, the experienced keeper who would always tell me stories of each and every sun bear, Adneen and Marshah; who never fail to make funny remarks that lightens up our mood, Mizuno; who greeted me on my first day and welcomed me, Pradeep; who educated me on so many things and introduced me to all of the sun bears, Julamih, Adrian, Dr. Boon and many others. Personally, I found that I was being so awkward on my early days but these people were very welcoming and provided so much comfort and I couldn’t ask for a healthier working environment.
These amazing people have been guiding me since day 1 and not a single day goes by without new knowledge, fun activities, laughs, sweats and most important, experiences. They are the best. This whole adventure has been nothing but inspiring for me to always try something new, even if it’s a thing that I’ve never done before. I came here with zero knowledge and left with a luggage full of memories. I hope more people would come to volunteer in the future to actually know how it feels to be helping these cute Bornean sun bears. Oh, and I lost a few kg off my weight too, so thanks BSBCC!
Text by Adrian Damsha Sufri & Danny Daniellson Peter & Pradeep A/L Gunasegaran
Photos by Adrian Damsha Sufri, Danny Daniellson Peter & Seng Yen Wah
What is your first reaction when you know Bintang gave birth to a cub? What is the story of that day?
Danny: Saya danny, saya adalah salah satu bear keeper di BSBCC. Pada hari pertama hari kelahiran anak beruang tersebut disedari oleh marshah (Bear Keeper). Anak beruang mengeluarkan satu teriakkan kecil yang membuatkan marshah hairan dengan bunyi tersebut. Apabila Marshah mendekati kadang yang ada bunyi teriakkan kecil itu semakin kuat dan jelas lalu marshah mengambil lampu suluhnya dan menyulukan cahaya lampu suluh itu kearah Bintang dan menyedari ada benda yang bergerak dibahagian tepi kaki Bintang.
Danny: I am Danny, one of the bear keepers at BSBCC. On the first day, Marshah (Bear Keeper) was first to spot the cub. The bear cub made a small cry and alerted Marshah. When Marshah approached the den, the cry became louder and clearer, so Marshah flashed at Bintang using a torchlight and he discovered something that was moving near Bintang's feet.
Danny: Apabila marshah memanggil senior keeper, David untuk kepastian. David mengenal pasti itu adalah anak beruang. Lalu mereka melaporkan tentang anak beruang tersebut kepada DR Boon. Tidak lama kemudian, DR Boon turun dan memeriksa anak beruang tersebut lalu memberitahu perkara tersebut kepada Wawa (officer) dan saya. Kemudian Wawa bersama dengan saya pergi ke bear house untuk memeriksa keadaan anak beruang dan Bintang.
Satu keeper yang memerhati dan mencatat aktiviti anak beruang dan Bintang. Pada masa itu semua staff diarahkan oleh Dr Boon agar tidak membuat bunyi bising atau apa-apa perkara yang boleh membuat Bintang stress kerana itu akan membuat Bintang melakukan perkara yang buat anak beruang cedera.
Danny: After that, Marshah called the senior keeper, David to identify whether there was the cub. As soon as David confirmed that it was a bear cub, they reported to Dr Boon about the cub. Dr Boon came soon after to inspect the bear cub and informed Wawa (Bear Care Officer) and me about it. Then, Wawa and I went to the bear house to check the bear cub and Bintang.
When we reached at bear house, there was a keeper observing and recording the activities of the cub and Bintang. At that moment, Dr Boon instructed everyone to not make noises or do anything that might make Bintang feel stressed because she might hurt the cub.
What happened to the cub that she had to be separated from the mother?
Danny: Bintang hanya dapat bersama dengan anaknya dalam masa 9 hari sahaja. Ini disebabkan oleh kesihatan anak beruang tersebut yang lemah, bahagian belakangnya terdapat kesan luka dan kedua cuping telinganya telah hilang. Dia dipisahkan dari ibunya disebabkan kondisi kesihatannya yang tidak baik.
Kemudian Dr Boon membawa dia ke klinik dan anak beruang tersebut diberikan rawatan. Anak beruang itu dijaga dalam tempoh 24 jam dan diberikan pemerhatian yang sangat teliti kerana keadaannya yang sangat lemah pada waktu itu. Apabila beberapa hari berlalu, kesihatan anak beruang tersebut semakin pulih dan juga menunjukkan pembesaran yang baik.
Danny: Bintang only stayed with her cubs for nine days. Because the cub was in poor health condition, she had wounds on her back, and both outer ears were missing. Due to her poor health condition, she has since been separated from her mother.
After that, Dr Boon took her to the clinic for treatment. Since the cub was weak, the cub has to be taken care for 24 hours and given very close observation. A few days later, the cub’s health improved and growing well.
How do you feel about taking care of a newborn cub?
Adrian: Masa hari pertama saya jaga baby, saya risau dan agak takut sikit sebab baby itu kecil dan nampak lembut. Kali pertama bagi susu kepada baby saya risau, kalausaya tercederakan baby sebab terlalu kuat pegang itu baby. Apa yang akan di buat untuk baby setiap hari ialah, pagi lebih kurang jam 8 akan timbang baby dulu supaya dapat tahu berapa jumlah susu untuk hari tersebut. Selepas bagi susu, akan bagi berak dan kencing dngan cara guna tissue atau gauze yang basah untuk baby bagi respond berak dan kencing. Lepas semua tu, akan check suhu takut suhu badan baby. Suhu badan menurun akan jadi masalah untuk baby. Kalau dia kurang sihat, kami terpaksa bawa baby ke bilik perubatan untuk bagi oxygen. Semua ambil masa yang lama untuk kekalkan cara penjagaan macam itu.
Mula-mula bagi susu itu memang susah sebab mahu cari cara untuk baby senang minum dan saya senang bagi. Saya perlu control masa baby hisap susu takut laju sangat minum, tidak minum dan hisap udara. Masa ini baby masih tidak minum banyak susu kadang puting susu masih di mulut tapi tidak minum tidur dia, kena bagi pergerakan supaya baby tahu yang dia masih menyusu.
Adrian: On the first day of taking care of the cub, Luna, I was worried and a little scared because the cub was still tiny and looked soft. Our task every day would start off with taking the weight of the cub around eight in the morning. We do this in order for us to know the amount of milk she needed on that day. After each feeding, we would stimulate her to defecate and urinate using a wet tissue or gauze. After that, the temperature were measured and recorded. Temperature that are not within the normal range can be a problem for a cub. If she is unwell, we have to bring the baby to the medical room for oxygen. The kind of care that is given for her takes up plenty of time.
The first time I was feeding the cub, I was worried that I would hold her too tight and hurt her. It wasn't easy to feed Luna because I wanted to find a comfortable position to feed her and make sure she could drink the milk easily. I need to control the amount of milk that is being suckled into her because it will be a problem if she is drinking too much or sucking the air in the milk bottle instead of the milk. In the early days,Luna would not consume a lot of milk. Sometimes the nipple would still be in the mouth but she would fall asleep after drinking half way. So, I have to push the milk bottle a little bit so that she knows that she is still drinking milk.
Adrian: Bila start nampak mata baby ada sikit terbuka memang ada rasa excited sebab tidak sabar tunggu baby boleh jalan dan melihat dunia ini. Dua-dua mata baby sudah buka tapi penglihatan belum sempurna. Tapi baby nampak lagi cute bila sudah buka mata. Walaupun tidak ada cuping telinga. Masa untuk bagi baby berjalan-jalan, guna carpet getah untuk base baby. Bila mula-mula letak baby marah sebab kapet tu ada biji-biji mungkin baby tidak selesa. Lapik dengan tuala dan underpad baru tidak nangis-nangis tapi still ada buat bunyi. Bila lepas susu atau sebelum bagi susu akan biar baby jalan-jalan di atas karpet yang di lapis tuala dan underpad. Biasa baby akan bising, kadang sampai office dengar suara si baby. Masih belum boleh angkat badan lagi, kepala saja yang dapat angkat. Tapi nampak perubahan yg semakin hari semakin cepat. Dia cuba untuk bediri empat kaki tapi masih belajar guna kaki belakang. Tidak sabar tunggu dia boleh berjalan, play fight, bawa untuk berjalan di hutan, dan tengok baby membesar dengan baik.
Adrian: When Luna cries, we will feed her with milk. Sometimes, she would be fast asleep for longer hours without crying. So, I would need to wake her up carefully. Once she wakes up, I would feed her milk. When I saw the cub's eyes opening up a little, I was very excited because I could not wait for the baby to start walking and seeing the world. Luna's eyes are completely open but her vision is not clear yet. With her eyes now wide open, even without the outer ears, she looks cuter. Once it was time for Luna to take a walk, we laid a rubber carpet as a base and placed her on it. When we put her on it for the first time, she was angry because there were small and round bumps on the carpet, which might have made her uncomfortable. After that, we put a towel and underpad on the carpet and she stopped crying but she would still be moaning. Since then, the cub has walking time that is done before or after feeding. Luna would make noise, and sometimes her voice can be heard throughout the office. She still does not know how to stand properly, but she is able lift her head. She seems to be getting better day by day. She tries to stand on all four feet but she is still learning to use her hind legs. I cannot wait she can walk, play fight, take for a forest walk, and watch the cub grow well.
Danny: Luna sangat comel apabila tidur tapi bila waktunya dia bangun untuk mmimun susu, dia akan nangis. Pemberian susu kepada anak beruang tersebut juga dijaga termasuk jumlah susu dan suhu susu ketika diberikan kepada anak beruang tersebut. Suhu susu semasa diberikan kepada anak beruang mesti kadalam keadaan tidak panas dan tidak sejuk, dalam erti lain suam.
Kebiasaannya apabila dia selesai meminum susunya dia selalunya akan dibantu untuk membuang air besar dan membuang air kecil. Cara-cara yang dilakukan adalah berbeza bagi setiap penjaga(staff) anak beruang ini. Cara penjaga membantu anak beruang ini untuk membuang air kecil dan membuang air besar adalah membuat anak beruang tersebut terbaring di tangan penjaga.kemudian saya akan membasahkan sedikit bahagian pada tisu dan menggosokkan pada tepi kemaluannya dengan perlahan sehinggalah dia membuang air besar dan air kecilnya. Semasa dia kencing, dia akan memancutkan kencingnya dengan sekuat tenaganya hingga membuat kencingnya terkena pada penjaga dan ini terjadi pada setiap penjaga dan kadang kala ada juga yang terkena dengan tahi anak beruang tersebut.
Danny: Luna is very cute when she sleeps but when she wakes up to drink milk, she will cry out loud. Feeding cub is exquisite which include the amount of milk and milk temperature when feeding the cub. The temperature of the milk for to the cub must be neither hot nor cold, in other words warm.
Usually, after she drinks her milk, we will stimulate her to defecate and urinate. Each cub keeper uses different methods to help her. I think the easiest way is to let the cub lie on my hand. Then I would wet a small part of the tissue and slowly rub on the edge of her genital until she defecates and urinates. She will start urinate and then defecate but as she urinates, she might spray her urine on me. This happens to every keepers, and sometimes we also come in contact with her faeces too.
How is Luna now?
Adrian: Baby sudah start untuk berdiri 4 kaki, tapi masih belum boleh berjalan macam beruang lain, kadang Nampak macam penyu pun ada. Ada masa di mana baby macam main dengan saya. Bagi baring di tangan dan cuba kacau-kacau dia, baby peluk tangan dan buka mulut macam mahu gigit.
Luna has started to stand on four legs, but still cannot walk well. Sometimes all her legs pushing forward and looks like a turtle. Sometimes she seems like want to play. So I will let her lie on my hands and play with her gently. She will hold my hands and opens her mouth as if she wants to bite me.
Danny: Setiap hari tumbusarannya semakin meningkat dengan baik dan setiap hari semakin kuat. Walaupun kedua cuping telinganya tidak ada, anak beruang tetap terlihat garang dan liar. Kedua mata sudah terbuka, walaupun penglihatan masih tidak jelas. Perasaan tidak sabar sangatlah kuat di dalam diri saya untuk memperlihatkannya keadaan dan suasana hutan. Kerana hutan adalah rumah dan syurga bagi meraka.
Luna is getting better and stronger every day. Although both outer ear are missing, the cub still looks fierce and wild. Her eyes are opened, although the vision is still not clear. However, I cannot wait to show her the forest. Because the forest is a home and paradise for them.
What do you want to say to Luna?
Adrian: Apa pun, saya harap LUNA akan membesar dengan baik dan sihat. Jadi beruang yang liar mampu berdikari, laju makan, senang di jaga, senang bergaul dengan beruang lain, tidak suka moody macam romolina. LUNA the moon of sunbear, bintang daughter, and the baby of BSBCC.
In any case, I hope Luna will grow up well and healthy. She will be a wild sun bear that is able to be independent, good in foraging, good at socialising, and with a good personality. Luna is the moon of sunbear, the daughter of Bintang (Star), and the baby of BSBCC.
Learning to crawl is an important milestone for Luna.
She is practising every day. Practice makes perfect! We can't wait for the day when she masters crawling skills!
The baby sun bear, Luna, is like a human baby. Her behaviour includes crying, feeding, sleeping and playing. Crying is her main way to tell us what she needs. She will be bawling and moaning when she feels hungry, uncomfortable or unsettled. It’s a sound that spurs us into action!
Back on May 20, 2021, BSBCC unexpectedly ushered in the birth of a female cub, Luna. The mother, Bintang, was observed nursing and caring for her newborn attentively. However, a few days later, the cub was found to have low body temperature and had severe ear injuries and skin infections.
Therefore, a difficult decision was made to separate the cub from the mother. During that time, she weighed 353g and needed immediate medical attention. Caretakers were taking care of her around the clock. Now that her wounds have healed, and under the care of BSBCC, she is steadily growing.