Story by Hannah J. Ryan | September 23, 2009
Malayan sun bears don’t have it as easy as Monte. In Southeast Asia, the world’s smallest bear species faces poaching, deforestation and a host of other woes, according to Siew Te Wong, a graduate in wildlife biology from the University of Montana.
Text by Jungle Bob - Bear Action Teams (BATs)
Well, it’s been a few weeks since we had any updates from the Bear House and the BSBCC project in Sepilok. So, let’s get up to speed.
‘Suria’ has a ‘poorly’ paw and is confined to ‘quarters’ whist it repairs itself. Doc Cecillia has been in attendance and prescribed antibiotics.
‘Manis’ is doing well but has decided she doesn’t actually like other bears, she much prefers humans, especially Wai Pak (if anyone out there does understand the workings of the female brain, answers on a post card please). She has been taking some time out to check out her birthing pen and seems to like it. She is under constant surveillance at the moment which smacks of voyeurism but is a necessary evil.
Text by Ng Wai Pak
Elis and I stayed one night at Kota Kinabalu. The next morning, Dr. Sen was checking on the pregnant bear before we put her into the translocation cage. The bear’s name is Manis, which mean “sweet” in Malay language. Her weight was 43.7 kg. She might give birth within this month.
After made sure Manis was in healthy condition, we placed her in the cage with leaves and twigs. Then we hit the road back to Sepilok.
Text by Ng Wai Pak
On the 27th August, I received an emergency order to go to Kota Kinabalu with the Sepilok senior ranger, Elis, to exchange a bear from our centre with a pregnant bear named Manis from Lok Kawi Zoo. The pregnant bear has to be taken care in BSBCC with the proper birthing den and 24 hours CCTV recording. Because of the limited space we have at BSBCC, one bear from BSBCC has to exchange with the zoo for the female bear. We have chosen Gutuk, the oldest male bear in BSBCC.
Text by Ian Hall posted at http://arkitrek.com/http:/arkitrek.com/scottish-scouts-at-bsbcc/
As you may know, wild animals in captivity need constant enrichment to reduce boredom and stereotypic behaviour. Last month we provided the bears at the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre with a daily parade of Scottish Scouts for their amusement and benefit.To the bears’ frustration the first thing that the Scouts did was to put up a tarpaulin fence so that they couldn’t see what was going on. They could still peer around the side though and from ovehearing the camaraderie could get a good idea of what was going on.
First there was a lot of digging interrupted by much repose in front of a cooling fan. The result was strange serpentine trench that twisted away from the bear’s house in either direction.
Incomprehensibly, to the bears, over the next week or so a wire mesh frame emerged from the trench to a height of two metres. Luckily the orang-utans didn’t mistake it for a playground.
Check out the video.. one of the sun bears was making a weird sound. It's the one in the basket, her name is Suzie. Perhaps Papa Bear, Wong Siew Te can explain why?
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The above video was posted on LEAP blog by Sue.
Thanks for posting this behavior on sun bears that not many people know about. This sound is a “suckling” sound when the bear such a particular body part of themselves or other bears. It is fairly common among the captive sun bears, especially young ones. The reason behind this is actually quite sad.
In the wild, mother sun bears nurse their cubs up to 2 years or even longer. During this time, besides suckling for mother’s milk, the process of suckling also let the cubs seek comfort and feel secure and safe being side by side with their mother. This behavior is best explained by human babies sucking pacifier to seek comfort. Same theory: no milk draw out from the pacifier, but the suckling action make the babies feel comfort and safe.
Most captive sun bears share the very similar stories: they all were being captured by poachers and separated with the mother when they were at very young age. These were serious traumas, especially those mother bears being slaughtered in front of the babies. There was a story that I will never forgot in my life: a tiny baby sun bear was tied up for sale at Gaya Street Sunday market in Kota Kinabalu, and its mother was being cut up in pieces for sale as meat.
This kind of trauma is way beyond anyone’s imagination. Anyway, these baby bears grow up without mother and without a chance to suckle. However, suckling is an innate behavior. When the cub is hungry or feel uncomfortable, they suckle their mother’s breast. For these poor captive bears, they do not have their mother around, but the urge to suckle is very strong. So they learn to suckle on something handy. This “something handy” can be any part of their body like limbs, toes, or paws. More commonly was something that they can “latch on” like their own penis for male bears or vulva for female bears. If there are other young bears around, they may suck on each other’s ears. They always suckle on the same object or the same body part over and over again that later become their favorite suckling object.