Text & Photos by Seng Yen Wah
"We found a baby bear in Bintang’s den!" – Our resident vet, Dr Boon, was telling us from her walkie talkie.
It was an ordinary day. On 20 May 2021, in the morning, keepers, as usual, started their routine in the bear house. The bear keeper, Marshah, was doing the faecal check. Suddenly, he heard a soft crying sound from the bear den. Then, he checked every den and found a tiny black thing in Bintang's den. Then he asked David, a senior bear keeper, to take a look. As soon as David confirmed it was a bear cub, he informed Dr Boon immediately. Dr Boon came quickly to inspect the bear cub and informed everyone in BSBCC.
After that, the day had become an extraordinary day for the BSBCC.
In these 100 days, Little Luna has been through a lot. Let pictures show how the growing process has been for Luna in these 100 days!
Bintang did a good job being a mother for the first time. She took good care of Luna.
She spends every second around her cub fulfilling her all needs. When Luna is crying, she returns to Luna and cuddles her to comfort her no matter where she is. Bintang loves to interact with her cub and keeps watching all her activities even when she feels tired.
She is always alert to her surroundings to ensure Luna is safe. The mother's love is sweet and warm!
In the morning, Bintang was nibbling on her cub more frequently. Luna was less active. We decided to check on Luna and found that she was weak.Her body temperature was low, multiple dry wounds on her body and necrotic skin on her ears. After checking her condition, it is found that Luna’s injuries may have been caused by Bintang's over-grooming.
After that, we made a difficult decision to separate Luna from Bintang. The decision was tough for us as there was no doubt in Bintang’s mothering abilities. However, Luna was in poor health. Our vet and keeper quickly took her to the clinic and treated her immediately. Since then the keepers cared for her around the clock 24/7.
Luna’s health condition was unstable. Fortunately, she survived many critical moments, such as maintaining her in the oxygen chamber several times.
Slowly, her health improved.
Luna couldn't wait to see the world. It was so exciting, her eyes opened!
Luna gets ready to crawl! She can lift her head to look around. Then Luna starts doing mini push-ups, lifting or supporting herself up on her limbs. She learns to lift herself up on all her limbs. And she begins to rock forward and backwards. She surprised us with her learning ability. Soon, she was crawling around.
Luna is seeing the sun for the first time. It is so great! The first time of going outdoors, she was feeling anxious. She stays with the keeper who slowly introduces her to every little thing around her. Soon, she looks around and starts to fall in love with the sun, leaves and nature. She might think this world is so cool!
Luna is teething!
Meet the forest!
Everything in the forest is new to her! She never spends enough time exploring around, playing with leaves and digging in the soil. It is wonderful to see her running and hopping in a happy rhythm.
Walks in the forest allow Luna to explore the forest from an early age and learn the forest skills needed to survive in the wild, such as climbing, foraging, digging, etc.
Luna had a first taste of solid food,a banana! After that, she tried watermelon, snake fruit, pineapple, sweet potato and carrot.Her favourite is still the banana!
Hold on to each tiny moment. Luna is growing too fast! She is 100 days old today! There is still a long journey for Luna. With love and patience,we hope Luna grows up healthy and happy. Happy 100 days, Luna!
Sun bears are the smallest bear species in the world. Their cubs are considered incredibly cute.
Most sun bears in BSBCC are ex-pets. Before coming to the BSBCC, they were chained or kept in small cages with inadequate care. These bears were rescued and underwent a rehabilitation process at BSBCC to regain their forest skills. Our ultimate goal is to release them back into the wild where they truly belong.
Say NO to the pet trade. The sun bears do not belong in cages. They should never be your pets!
Text by Mohammad Naqiuddin bin Alipudin
Photos by Chiew Lin May & Seng Yen Wah
Kala is a 6 year old, adult female sun bear in BSBCC. She arrived at the BSBCC in January 2015 as a cub and she was separated from her mother at an early age. She was actually being illegally traded and someone bought her with the intention of surrendering her to Sabah Wildlife Department’s Wildlife Rescue Unit. Upon arrival at the BSBCC, she showed signs of dehydration, emaciation and malnutrition; basically in a very poor condition.
However, Kala is treated full of care here and has been progressing into a strong adult sun bear. She was introduced back to her natural habitat, the forest, on June 2016.
Kala loves wandering in the forest, foraging in the soil, biting tree bark in search for foods such as invertebrates like earthworms, termites and pill millipedes. With her sharp claws and full set of canines, she has no problem to bite through the tree bark or any wooden logs. Walking around the forest alone is really her thing. She would find her favorite spot and just sit there, sunbathing under the rich sun rays before going back to foraging again, or sleep on dead logs.
She loves being in the forest, just like how humans like being at home. Most of the time, almost every day, she doesn’t go back to her den and spends the night out in the forest. As adventurous as she might be, she’s still learning several survival skills and hopefully, she will soon be completely rehabilitated and able to be released and live on her own in her natural habitat, away from humans.
In the bear house, Kala stays with Susie 2 in the same den and her neighbour, Bintang. All three of them went out to the forest together. When Bintang had a grumpy moment, she would growl at both Kala and Susie 2 after the door is opened. However, it didn’t affect their bonding at all as there is no aggression. Susie 2 sometimes growls back. As for Kala, she is one chilled bear. In their den, she will rest alone on the platform and remain unbothered.
Even during feeding time, unlike other bears who are so eager to get fed first, Kala would only come down when she really is hungry and she has no problem sharing foods with Susie 2.Kala is not really fond of new people which is really good being part of her natural instinct. When she feels threatened, she knows how to defend and fight for herself with a warning bark. She is cool around other sun bears but not around human. She is always observant. When any keeper enters her neighboring dens to clean, she lies down and watches from above, sometimes sniffing then barking but when she gets bored she falls asleep!
Kala is not only an adorable sun bear but also strong and brave. Her journey whilst at the BSBCC has been positive and she still consistently improves, mastering skills for what it takes to be a wild sun bear and keeping in touch with her natural instinct. She loves the forest, the air, the sun’s rays and playing in the greens that grow on the rich soil. Hopefully, she will soon be fulfilling all the criteria of a wild sun bear and able to be released in the future. Good days are coming Kala!