Text and Photos by Jacquelyn Jill Jepiuh
It has been officially more than a month that Rudy has been a resident at BSBCC! A little bit about Rudy’s origins – she was kept as an illegal pet in Papar and was then confiscated and handed over to Lok Kawi Wildlife Park in March 2021. When she was first found, she was anxious but generally in good health. After over a year with LKWP, she was transferred to BSBCC for rehabilitation purposes. Since the day she was confiscated, she has never had the experience of a forest enclosure. And since she has not undergone any fence training yet, we decided to bring the forest enclosure to her!
Rudy upon arrival was quiet, shy and weary of her surroundings. Her true colors came out at night as seen on CCTV footage. When her keepers were not around, she was actually a ball of energy! She especially enjoyed the dead logs, leaves and furniture that was placed in her cage and was seen destroying everything throughout the night. We were all surprised by what her little body could do. She’s a hulk in a little bear body!
In the mornings when her keepers would come in, it is always a mess in her den. Furnitures turned over, logs all in tiny pieces like she turned the whole room upside down. As naughty as she is, we are so happy to see her enjoy herself and cleaning up after her doesn’t seem like a chore. Especially when she gives the cutest sleepy face the next morning.
Her first few weeks here she was very picky with the new food items served to her at BSBCC. It took some time as some food items she would think were toys and instead of eating them she would just destroy and play with them. Eventually, she got used to these foods and we noticed that some of her new favorites are pineapples and sweet potato. Her least favorite would be tomatoes, which are always
left untouched and swept to the side of the cage.
One thing we noticed about her is that she is not the most confident climber and doesn’t really enjoy hammocks. Her keepers would encourage her to climb more by placing her food high up in the hammock or platform. Remarkable Rudy knew to use other logs from below to push these foods off the high ground. Eventually, she would climb up to push the food off herself or eat the foods while hanging like a bat from the top of the cage.
Rudy has now settled in very well into BSBCC and she is very comfortable to show her true self in front of her keepers. She would easily get excited over new things in her cage and would randomly get the zoomies. She is rambunctious, random, restless and remarkable. Thank you to Rudy’s keepers constantly teaching her the natural behaviors a bear should have. With her progress now, we are confident that she will be able to learn these behaviors and will definitely enjoy when she’s able to be released to the forest enclosure.
Text by Charis Chin Kai Xin
Pictures by Jacquelyn Jill Jepiuh & Jude Ailton George
Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre (BSBCC) has been in my mind for a long time and I wanted to volunteer here since 2019 when I was a high school student. As the pandemic occurred for 2 years, I managed to return to Sabah for my summer break and decided to take the chance to volunteer here for a month.
On my first day of arriving in Sandakan, BSBCC’s vet, Dr. Boon was very generous in letting me, a vet student, to join an eagle treatment that they help with the Wildlife Rescue Unit of the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre (SORC). This was my first time seeing up close a living eagle and helping to treat it, it was definitely eye opening as we normally would not have the chance to get such an experience. Sometimes SORC also managed to bring in rescued pangolins too, to me it was definitely an experience hard to forget!
To be honest, the first day of work can be a little tiring but as time goes by, your body will adjust to all the physical workload. At first, I really cannot handle carrying basins of fruit and hiking around the enclosure to feed the bears. But as time goes by, this is one of my favourite tasks to do. This is because we get to see the bears out in nature and play “Who is this?” quiz game, which is to try and guess correctly which bear is present.
I have to say the atmosphere working in the bear house is great too, it feels like a big family doing work simultaneously. No matter what situation, all the workers are very friendly and willing to guide us. They are really supportive as they keep giving us advice on our enrichment projects for the bears. This is because each bear has their own personality, the bear keepers understand the behaviours of the bears through constant observation and would gladly guide us what we can do for the bears. This is not easy as one has to spend a long time to get to know the bears, not to mention their names and characteristics too. I was there for a month and sometimes I still get confused between some bears, imagine the time they took to truly know the bears!
Initially, I wanted to volunteer for two weeks, but I am relief that I changed my plan to a month. Even though with a month, I still think it is not enough. To be honest, volunteering is so much more insightful and meaningful than just a simple visit to the centre. There is so much more to see and learn, and I really hope of coming back here. Not to mention the chance of doing a termite nest hunt again in the forest or doing a scat analysis to find out what the bears have been eating in the enclosure compared to their usual feed.
With that, I am really grateful for everything that was taught and the opportunity given to me to explore regarding wildlife conservation during my volunteer placement. I just want to give a big thanks to my buddy, Jacq and the following workers: Pradeep, Logan, Julamih, Nealbert, Oliver, Jude, David, Azwie and Yuery. Also thank you for Dr. Boon, who gave volunteers the chance to see their usual medical check-up on the bears, and Dr. Wong for arranging sessions with all the volunteers even though he was very busy.
So, to anyone who is interested in wildlife animals, conservation, or nature in general, do not miss out the opportunity to help out BSBCC and get to know the ways of working in a conservation centre, where you get to enjoy nature, gain new experiences and meet this group of fantastic people! Not to mention, you will definitely get to hear the calling of rhinoceros hornbills or even lucky enough to see a mousedeer, “Sang Kancil” while doing fence check in BSBCC!
We are very sorry to announce that sun bear cub Luna passed away in the early hours of yesterday (19th September). Indeed, it was a sad day for all of us at BSBCC. Luna has involved in an unexpected bear fight and suffered several bite wounds. Immediate treatment was provided but the wounds, unfortunately, got infected resulting in septicemia (blood infection). She was later found dead on the 19th of September 2022 at 2.20am.
All of our staff were devastated to hear of this loss. Thank you to all of our keepers for trying their absolute best to maintain her health. Luna will be deeply missed by all of us here at BSBCC.
We are sure this upsets many of you, including those who have kindly adopted her with our share bear adoption programme. We will contact all adopters regarding this very soon. Thank you all for your patience, understanding, and support during this time.
You are now in a better place without any suffering. You will always have a place in all our hearts and will forever be our little princess. Thank you for coming into our lives and being the brightest baby star in the sky.
"In life, we loved you dearly. In death, we love you still. In our hearts, you hold a place no one else will ever fill."
20 May 2021-19 September 2022
On the 8th September 2022, Sabah Wildlife Department invited BSBCC and HUTAN-KOCP to an education outreach programme to Kim Loong Resources Plantation, Lung Manis, Beluran. The programme was started with opening speech from the plantation managements, followed by talk about Wildlife Law and Penalties from Sabah Wildlife Department, Changing Landscape from HUTAN-KOCP, and Introduction to Sun Bear Conservation from BSBCC. The programme was attended by staffs, school children and parents. We truly appreciate the hospitality of Kim Loong Resources Plantation management and staffs that provided us a chance to spread the words on behalf of our sun bears. Thank you!
On the 2nd and 3rd September 2022, BSBCC was invited to Planet Us Exhibition to organised a workshop on bear enrichment. The exhibition was organised by U.S Embassy in Malaysia and Biji-Biji Initiatives to raise environmental awareness among Malaysian youth. The two-days participation managed to gather more than 30 participants in which they manage to get the chance to know more about sun bears enrichment and doing hands-on activities of making enrichment for the bears. Thanks U.S Embassy Malaysia and Biji-Biji Initiatives for the invitation.
Text by Ivy Quirinus Chong
Photos by Jacquelyn Jill Jepiuh
I was elated when I received the email from Bear Care Officer, Pradeep, mentioning that they are happy to accept my volunteer application. Since then, I just couldn’t wait till the day I arrive at BSBCC to start the volunteering program. Starting from Day 1, I got paired up with my buddy, Azwie, who was there to help me where I needed help as well as answer all the questions I have about the bears. I even got tips from Azwie on how to identify the bears by their unique chest marks and behaviour (like Linggam with his long limbs or Panda that do not have a significant chest mark!).
Every day passed by fleetingly during the 2 weeks I was there! I got the opportunity to experience the whole operation of taking care and rehabilitating the sun bears. Mornings always started with physical work like feeding, cleaning of cages, and fence checking while the afternoon was mostly focused on building all sorts of enrichments and other housekeeping activities (Remember to wear longs socks if you are someone who squirms whenever you see those blood sucking invertebrates!). Through all these, the staff were always there to liven the day and I couldn’t be more grateful for that because they made every day of volunteering fun! I also have to say my heartful thanks to Dr. Boon for the unforgettable thrill of having an up-close view of the magnificent bears through the medical examination of Kudat (who surely is a heavy bear to carry!), despite the tight schedule.
Moreover, I also got to know the backstory of a few bears here, some were truly heart-breaking to hear (like the story of Betong ☹) because the welfare of these bears was very much neglected while in captivity by previous owners buuutt sad no more, as the short yet well-informing presentation about sun bears and BSBCC by Pradeep as well the sessions with Dr. Wong will make you feel delighted for the bears as they now are in great hands! The information and answers I gotten from Dr.Wong and the team has certainly opened a whole new perspective in me regarding wildlife conservation. It instilled in me that we should just let the wild be wild!
So, if you are someone who has an enthusiasm for conservation and the environment, I highly recommend a volunteer placement at BSBCC. You’ll surely leave with greater awareness about wildlife conservation and a lasting desire to contribute more or even come again to volunteer here in the future!