Written by Pradeep Aggi Gunasegaran
Photos by Chiew Lin May & Seng Yen Wah
Ronnie or also known as Ronnie Boy is one of the forty-three residents Bornean Sun Bears at the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre (BSBCC). On the eventful night of 10th of March 2014, Ronnie Boy was among the five sun bears that were involved with the transfer activity from Lok Kawi Wildlife Park to BSBCC. While the history of Ronnie Boy ending up with human beings is unknown, he spent approximately eight years of his life at a resort in Tawau with Diana, another rescued sun bear at BSBCC. The both of them spent the early part of their lives in a small concrete floored cage as they were exhibited to the resort’s visitors. The owner of the resort then decided to hand over both Ronnie Boy and Diana to Sabah Wildlife Department in July 2013 and they were housed in Lok Kawi Wildlife Park for slightly more than seven months before the transfer activity was carried out.
Ronnie Boy was assumed to be eight years of age and he also appeared to be a physically healthy and muscular adult male Bornean Sun Bear. However, he was still subjected to a health check upon his arrival at BSBCC and he was diagnosed with a heart condition by the veterinarian. Due to that, extra care is given to ensure that Ronnie Boy gets the best diet possible under BSBCC’s care. He went from just merely eating fruits and rice to being fed with a variety of food from fruits, vegetable, egg, and many more to keep him healthy. Today, Ronnie Boy is 15 years of age, still healthy, muscular and looking charming with his pair of blue eyes.
Throughout the years of being under the care of BSBCC, Ronnie Boy has always been a calm adult male bear. Sun bears are solitary individuals in nature but he does not seem to be unfazed by the sight of other male bears nearby. He often spends his time relaxing in his den by sitting on the edge of the basket provided, clinging on to the bars with his forelimbs while resting his head against one of his forelimbs. Besides the basket, Ronnie Boy is also hooked on hammocks. He would lie down in his beloved hammock with his head resting on the edge. In that position, he would just observe keepers and volunteers who happen to walk pass by his den. While he is always in state of tranquility, he gets excited when environmental enrichment is provided to him. He does not get frustrated if the environmental enrichment is complex instead he would spends hours interacting with it.
Although Ronnie Boy is always calm in the bear house, he does have an issue that troubles him. For years, the bear care team has been trying to release Ronnie Boy into the forest but it has not been fruitful. Ronnie Boy is often afraid to take the steps out of the guillotine door into the forest enclosures. He is fearful of the outside world probably due to the condition he has been living in since young where he has only grown up to know concrete flooring and metal bars as his safe haven. We may be heading into the blue but for as long that Ronnie Boy is under the care of BSBCC, efforts will carried out for him to some day have his paws feeling the earth and grass while his body is soaked under the sunshine and rain. We hope that some day, Ronnie Boy will experience the world like any other wild Bornean Sun Bear!
Text & Photos by Seng Yen Wah
It’s a BIG day! Luna, our captive born sun bear cub is six months old today!
Luna was born on the 20th of May, 2021. She is the daughter of Bintang (Rescued Bear 39). Bintang took good care of Luna since she was born. However, on her eighth day, the keepers noticed Luna was not as active as before. She had a low body temperature and severe injuries to her ears and skin infections. Due to Luna's poor health, we made the difficult decision to separate Luna from her mother. At that time, she only weighed 353gms and was in need of urgent medical attention. Luna survived many critical moments when she was placed in the oxygen chamber several times. It was not easy for Luna's tiny body to get through all of this. She did well. After one month of treatment, her wounds healed. Unfortunately, she lost both of her external ears.
Luna is unique and different from other sun bears as she grows in a short, sleek, grey coat. But this doesn’t affect her prettiness. As Luna grows, her fur gets darker.
It is awesome to watch Luna growing up by hand-raising her from her day nine. Bringing Luna to the forest walk is a routine that allows her to learn forest skills. Every day, Luna walks into the forest happily, hops around, unable to conceal her excitement. It seems that she cannot wait for her daily forest adventure. From the beginning, Luna follows behind, and now, she will lead you to the path she wants to explore. She likes to stop and explore along the way! Luna has soil eating behaviour. She will dig into the soil and taste it. Luna loves to explore the forest by digging into the soil, hugging the trees, sniffing the forest floor, foraging for ants and letting the breeze embrace her.
To encourage Luna to climb, the her keeper will climb trees with her. Slowly, she shows her skills as she grips the trees with her sharp claws, and now she can climb up a tree to more than seven meters high! In the forest, Luna would pick her favourite trees to explore. She climbs up the trees to the canopy using liana, by digging and tearing them. Sometimes she climbs and crosses to another tree too! But Luna seldom spends time resting in the trees.
At the end of the forest walk, the keepers will take her to the stream. At first, Luna was a little uncertain and nervous as she crossed the stream. She follows the stream at the side, and then she goes slowly further into the stream with her keeper. If Luna thinks the water is too deep for her, she will step back. She enjoys the water, but she always checks where is her keeper first so she can go further! Sometimes she does not want to play in the water and stays at the side of the stream and digs the soil or climbs up a tree.
Luna is a gentle yet playful bear cub. Her keeper provides her with different types of enrichment in her den to encourage her natural bear behaviour and fill her day. Luna is a contented bear cub. She loves to try everything new! However, when she sees the new enrichment for the first time, she will remain alert, and she will paw it to make sure the enrichment is fine and then explore it. Luna knows how to make good use of her time. A piece of deadwood can get her through a day! Luna likes to play with towels, and she will bring the towel to where she wants to sleep. When Luna is scared by a noise, she will hide in the basket or stay behind, but she will look around and check the surroundings.
Time passed, Luna is six months old today. Luna is growing and learning the skills in the forest. She still has a long way to go, but it’s magical experience to see her being surprised and delighted to transform and behave as a wild sun bear. If you want to share your love for Luna, you can adopt her in our share bear adoption through our website, https://www.bsbcc.org.my/share-bear-adoption-thanksgiving-and-christmas-2021.html. You can help make a better future for Luna’s life!