Text by Seng Yen Wah
Photos by Chiew Lin May & Seng Yen Wah
Logan and Romolina are the bear cubs we have at BSBCC. Both of them are estimated at eight months old. Even though the same age, Romalina has permanent teeth and canines, whereas Logan still has his milk teeth and canines, with a curved shaped jaw. Logan has a bigger body size than Romalina, due to the gender difference. Both of these cubs have come to BSBCC with a different story.
Logan is a male bear cub. He was found at Lokan River, Kulu-Kulu Village in Sabah. When he first arrived, Logan was small and skinny, with the owner claiming that Logan was abandoned during the crossing of a large river with his Mother, leaving his left front paw maggoty and hairless. As a result, his left front paw has developed abnormally. The owner surrendered him, after keeping him for roughly three months, to the Sabah Wildlife Department (SWD) on 19th of May 2018, who sent Logan to BSBCC on the same day.
Romolina is a female bear cub. She was kept as a pet for roughly three months at Romol Village, Sapulut. The villager surrendered her after Bob Hartley and Virgil Joon Gunting negotiated with the villager. They sent her to the SWD who the transferred her to BSBCC on 7th of July 2018.
As these bears are of such similar ages, we decided to brighten their day and integrate the bear cubs. Logan is a friendly bear. He is curious about the presence of other bears and wants to get close and initiate play fighting with his new friends. Romolina decided to make things difficult. Romolina is more attached with humans and this integration was the first time she became close to another bear. She started to defend herself by vocalizing and tries to give a warning to Logan, as she felt insecure. However, Logan is brave and playful, therefore tries his best to get to know about Romolina despite her insecurity.
The day starts to get better. Romolina still uses her vocalisations, but only to warn Logan that she does not like his methods of play. However both bears show that they enjoy playing with each other through their soft biting and pawing. They spent more time playing in the hammock than on the ground. Time on the ground was spent chasing and running after each other within the enclosure, just like the characters from the cartoon “Tom and Jerry”. Both bears fill each other’s times with fun and excitement, showing they really enjoy being around each other.
Pacing has shown to be one of the stress-related behaviour. This stress-related behaviour may have been caused by the bear’s past life, especially if kept within small cages such as Romolina. When they are integrated, Logan will interrupt Romolina’s pacing which has helped to reduce her stress-related behaviours and time spent performing them. This has shown to be an alternative way and also the best way to help her!
Logan and Romolina have been sharing food together but only when it is not Romolina’s favourite food, corn. Romolina wants all the corn to herself and will give Logan a warning if he tries to take her corn away. Other than that, sharing the food has been successful. Sometimes they fight but it will not affect their friendship. We really hope Logan and Romolina can grow up happily together, gain the courage and strength to return to the forest together!
Daily Express. 30th October 2018.
In conjunction with the International Orangutan Day on August 19th, 2018, the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre (SOURC) organized a one-day awareness event. Many different interactive and educational activities were carried out during this event including informative talks, exhibitions, pongo fun fitness activities, henna drawing, children and family competitions and even a video show. This event aims to raise public awareness related to the conservation concerns that Orangutans are facing in the wild, including threats from illegal hunting and habitat destruction. Both the Orangutan and Sun Bear are keystone species within the environment where they are found, and are good examples of forest dependent species within Sabah. BSBCC wants to thank SOURC for inviting our team to participate at this event.
On August 11th, 2018, there was a visit to BSBCC by Kelab Rakan Pustaka (Library Club) of Politeknik Sandakan Sabah, which included a total of 38 students and a few accompanying teachers. The students were given a briefing and presentation about Sun Bears before proceeding with planned activities at the Centre. Every student was given an activity book that focused on the subspecies of Sun Bear and also the importance of the habitat to their survival in the wild. By the end of the visit, explanations were given for the questions and activities found within the activity book and a mini quiz was conducted to evaluate the level of understanding of students that participated.
On August 18th, 2018, BSBCC was visited by 3 schools from Sabah including Sekolah Agama Al-Azhar from Sandakan, SMK Elopura II from Sandakan and Maktab Sabah from Kota Kinabalu. The visiting schools were given talks about Sun Bears by BSBCC staff, had outdoor learning sessions and also had the opportunity to observe the Sun Bears in the forest enclosure from our viewing platform. In addition, the Kelab Pencinta Alam of SMK Elopura II also donated fruits for the Sun Bears while the Kelab Koperasi SMK Elopura II donated some sellable handcrafted items featuring the information of Sun Bears and other wild animals, in which the profit from the sale would be donated to BSBCC.
It was such a delight to see the students engaged and learning and hopefully this visit provided valuable knowledge for students to bring back and spread amongst the rest of their friends and family. Thanks goes out to all of the schools for their visit, support, and donations to BSBCC.
On 15th August 2018, BSBCC has been visited by the British High Commissioner to Malaysia, Her Excellency Vicki Treadell after attending the Sandakan War Memorial Day, which is held annually on this date. The founder and the CEO of BSBCC, Dr. Wong Siew Te had been personally briefing Her Excellency during the visit. We would like to thanks Her Excellency for the visit and support.
Text by Nabilah Hidayah Binti Misnen
Photos by BSBCC
Hi, my name is Yaya and I'm 20 years old. I came all the way from Negeri Sembilan to do my 10 weeks internship at Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre, after changing my mind from completing an internship at a veterinary clinic. I am currently a final year Animal Health and Production student in University Putra Malaysia, Sarawak.
Undergoing my internship at an animal conservation isn’t the most glamorous work. The first advice I can give you from my first-hand experience is: do not wear your favourite shirt when you start working! And I wouldn't wear your new sneakers either, because you don't even know what might happen to it. Despite all of this, it's an uhh-mayyyzing and rewarding experience even though there are many tough activities involved, such as cleaning up their dirty beds, hiking to feed the bears. There are also fun things to do here especially, to spend time with the bear keeper team. They are very friendly and helpful and make the surroundings very pleasant for the internship students like me. I'm not going to tell you about what I actually did here, in BSBCC because it is hard for me to describe! So, lots of pictures coming through.
Animals need to be treated gently as they also have feelings and seem to understand what is happening around them. It was a great pleasure to see them eating and playing around. Completing my internship at BSBCC was rewarding on many levels. Not only in its educational form both from an animal care and natural history perspective, I also got to appreciate the challenges of operating and managing a wildlife facility. It is also empowering because we know we are able to make a difference in the lives of the animals. They are already in captivity, so the very least we can do is help to improve their quality of their lives.
Mark my words: There is a soul in each and every animal, and they should be treated with respect.
This is the best reason to intern or volunteer in an animal conservation centre. It's a lesson that has sown deeply into my heart. The sun bears have not left my mind since I've been back in Sarawak. Those few weeks with the sun bears and the people were very intense, in a beautiful and heart-breaking way. I can honestly say that I not only fell in love with the bears, but also the people I met. I hope to visit BSBCC again with my friends to share this experience and to help out wherever we can.
On the 7th and 8th of August 2018, another outreach programme was organized by Danau Girang Field Centre to Kg. Entilibon, Tongod, Telupid. Our BSBCC Team was one of the collaborators along with other organizations which included Hutan-KOCP, Wildlife Rescue Unit and Sabah Wildlife Department. This programme was organized in efforts to raise awareness and educate the public on the importance of conserving our nature and wildlife especially those that are on the brink of extinction. The targeted audiences were school-youths, workers and communities in the area where two schools were visited which are SK Entilibon and SMK Entilibon. Various approaches were used as inputs in this programme which included talks, educational booths, quizzes and interactive games from each participating agencies for the students. The response was great as the students participated in each activities enthusiastically while the teachers showed immense support throughout the programme. Special thanks to the organizing committee, other collaborating agencies and also to the schools for their cooperation and warm hospitality.
Text by Seng Yen Wah
Photos by Chiew Lin May & Seng Yen Wah
Romolina has just finished her 30 day submission to quarantine! She is settling in well at BSBCC. A full body check-up has been conducted by Dr.Nabila Sarkawi who is a veterinarian from Sabah Wildlife Department. Based on the growth condition of her teeth, we found out she is an estimated age of six months instead of four months old. This is because some of her current teeth which have grown through recently, are now permanent and her adult teeth.
Romolina was found alone in the forest before being kept as a pet at Romol Village, Sapulut, in the interior division of Sabah, where she lived her life in a small cage. She was rescued by Bob Hartley and Virgil Joon Gunting, who had found out that a villager was keeping Romolina as a pet. They intended to rescue her so they negotiated with the villager who agreed to hand the young cub over to them. The villager said that he/she had kept Romolina for a duration of roughly three months and fed her sausages, porridge and fruits. The improper diet caused Romolina to have a smaller body size. Now that she is being fed a proper, nutritious diet in the care of BSBCC and she now weighs 8.8kg.
Romolina seems to be attached to humans. When the caretakers are not around, she will suckle and vocalize to seek comfort and safety. Romolina had lost her mother bear, therefore we now have keepers as her surrogate mother. What can the surrogate mother do? Keepers will spend time and play fight with her. Play fighting could teach her how to defend herself. Defence skills is one of the most important survival skills for the bear’s natural rainforest habitats, which can protect themselves from predators.
Besides the companionship from the keepers, Romalina has also been introduced to many types of enrichments to use throughout her days. Enrichment is a common name for the bears TOYs which can stimulate the action of natural behaviours that we would observe in non-captive Sunbears. Romolina is having different enrichments from day to day! But, her favourite toy is the warm, soft and comfy towel! Romolina is a detailed explorer. She will spend a lot of time exploring the enrichments made for her. Thanks to the care taker, Jeniur who made her a circle platform. She loves to sleep up there. Before sleeping Romalina will adjust and fidget until she finds the perfect spot to fall asleep and snooze like a baby!
Romolina is a curious bear who explores her environment through continuous sniffing. She loves milk and also loves to keep the milk on her body, by soaking her body in the milk tray. But she does not enjoy her body being too wet and fur remaining damp. Romolina is a good climber. She always climbs up and down to search and explore her environment. She is always very observant to her current surroundings and will keep checking and watching events that happen around her.
Romolina has lacked a mother’s love since young age, which makes her feel insecure. The way to help her is integrating her with other bears; making a bear friend can allow them to learn from each other and spend time together. The best enrichment of a bear is another bear! We are looking forward to the integration between her and her bear friend Logan, and hope they will get along well. The cute and lovely friendship is already starting to form between these two little bears. Please stay tuned for the updates to the start of this wonderful friendship! With the help of her friend Logan, the care of keepers and the love from you all, we hope Romolina will grow to into a real bear!
Text by Jessamine Thong Jiah Kher
Photos by Jessamine Thong Jiah Kher, Chiew Lin May & Seng Yen Wah
HI WORLD!~~ (with a very high pitch voice) hahhaha Ok… that’s a bit annoying, sorry…
Anyways, hi! I’m Jessamine Thong who is taking a Diploma in Animal Health and Production programme in the University Putra Malaysia Kampus Bintulu, Sarawak (UPMKB) and I’m here to share this my journey of undergoing an internship in BSBCC.
To be honest, I had no idea bears even existed in Malaysia before working with BSBCC and right on the first day, the friendliest team of bear care coordinators fed me all the facts on sun bears, and I was quite lost, but well, we learn don’t we?
So, my internship lasted for 2 and a half months and well, it was unexpectedly wonderful! Sun Bears! Wow! Why not?! They are Beautiful! But what really made BSBCC beautiful is how the staff and volunteers really care. Let’s get on with my adventure shall we?
Well, if you’re undergoing a volunteer programme or an internship, the centre would always assign a buddy to you! Having a buddy is a wonderful idea as it feels like you have someone that can be close to you when you’re new. They would be like an additional family member that you never knew of! They’ll teach you, guide you and take the fullest care of you during your time there. So who’s my buddy? Well, it’s the legendary senior bear keeper DAVID TAHIR. He taught me a lot from the first day I came, until the day I left. From cleaning cages to making creative enrichments, there’s just nothing he can’t do. Best buddy ever!
I had learnt a lot thanks to you David, my buddy!
What did I like most, during the whole internship?
Well, if I had to choose… it’s definitely going to be building enrichments! Yup, building is so much FUN! And the feeling of achievement after you have finished and knowing that the bear really enjoyed their new play equipment, there were just no words to describe the joy that I felt.
Well, I love building things and thanks for involving me on building these wonderful enrichments!
There was lots of events going on during my time there, and one of the favourite was of course, SUN BEAR DAY (16 May 2018) – Making a lot of enrichments and also getting involved in giving visitors a good old hands-on experience in making these enrichments.
Bjorn Hala – ‘Bear Home’
This is actually a house where the staffs and volunteers live during their time here. This brings me back to the first day I’ve arrived. Andy, the ‘manager’ of Bjorn Hala: I’m so sorry that my bag was super heavy, I’ve no idea what made it that heavy but thanks for helping me with it! And also the Bjorn Hala family, thanks for welcoming me warmly, and make me feel at home.
-Bojrn Hala Family portrait –
From the left, Mizuno, Andy, Wawa, Becca, Jasmine, Jessamine and Jeniur
- Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre Family –
Dr. Wong’s and his wonderful team of ‘Sun Bears’
All the bears and people I have met here, as well as all the love and care they shared, the food they fed, the unexpected experience they gave me, are unreplaceable and memories I will hold forever. Thanks for taking me out on so many adventures and this unforgettable experience.
That’s quite all from me. Curious on what made my internship so unique? Just come here and experience what I had, what all the other volunteers and interns had, then you’ll know, why it’s gonna be one of the best part of your life. Trust me, there will be no regrets!