Text by Kevin Andrews
Photos by Jacquelyn Jill Jepiuh & Jude Ailton George
My name is Kevin Andrews and I am from the United States. Over the last year I have been on a journey to see all 8 species of bear in the world within their wild and natural habitats to raise conservation and awareness about each one and their struggles. Not an easy task with some bears like the sun bear. Due to the struggles they face with their population in decline and the actual number and current range of them not fully known. And because of that fact, I always wanted to spend time here at the BSBCC to be a part of the largest organization actively helping every day to keep this species future a possibility. What Dr. Wong and this center have achieved for sun bears is nothing short of remarkable. Being not only the smallest bear in the world but the bear we know LEAST about, this center gives a ray of hope and a glimpse at a better future for these bears.
The sessions I had with Dr Wong were also not only a surprise, as he is the CEO and founder who build this place from ground up, but such a great blessing. As he talks about the future plans of the BSBCC and what they hope to accomplish and ways people can help. These talks gave me true hope that these bears DO have a future. As so little is known about these bears, talking to the single person who has done more than anyone to help them and knows more about them than anyone, he is able to offer invaluable information in order to find more ways to save them and help raise awareness about their struggle. You can see that passion, and love in him every time he talks about the bears. With all the time he gives to the people here and the center it is truly inspiring for the next generation to start following his footsteps in sun bear conservation.
To sum everything up, my time here at the BSBCC was invaluable for so many reasons. Being able to work with these bears every day, build enrichments for them, see them walk around in the jungle like they would naturally, and just be close to them I was able to learn so much about these species and the true nature of what this center does for them. The work you do here is not easy, it consists of long and hot, very humid days, some of which are going into the jungle to search for enrichments and some in the enclosures fixing fences or cleaning.
But seeing these bears every day, learning their unique personalities, watching them sleep in the canopy tops of the jungle enclosures. Every day you get to work to make their lives better. And that alone make every mosquito and leech bite, and every gallon of sweat very much worth it. The bear keepers that you work with every day are also such amazing and friendly people that you will leave here full of smiles and friends. Their passion for these bears truly does shine through and you can tell they are here because of a true desire to help them. And they are so great with answering questions and educate you on every aspect of this center and how it works.
When you leave BSBCC, you will leave here feeling more educated about these bears, their struggle as a species and what needs to be done. And you will also leave here feeling like you did help in a small part to contribute to these bears lives. And I hope more people will come here and find that passion and drive to help with conservation that comes with working here. I will definitely be back again! As my journey with bears has only just begun.
Today, we received a group visit from SMK Pitas. We are honoured to receive this visit, as they came from a distant location just to experience the nature and wildlife. The group consisted of 24 students and 17 teachers.
They were given an introduction to sun bears and the BSBCC's efforts at conserving them, followed by a guided tour to the observation platform to observe the rescued sun bears in the natural forest enclosures.
We hope they had a great time here and gained new knowledge about sun bears and their habitat. Thank you!
We are delighted to welcome a group of kindergarten children from Tabika KEMAS Parlimen Batu Sapi to BSBCC. This group consisted of 67 children who were accompanied by their teachers and parents.
They were given an introduction to sun bears, and later they were brought to the observation platforms to see the bears roaming in the forest enclosure. Each of them is given a worksheet activity, and they need to observe and spot the animals in the forest other than sun bears.
Hopefully the children can gain new knowledge about sun bears and help us spread awareness to their friends and family.
#schoolvisit #awareness #sunbear #bsbcc
“Connect, Conserve, and Collaborate” Art Exhibition and Fundraising Event at LUMA hotel, Kota Kinabalu, Sabah
The launching of the Art Exhibition and Coffee Experience fundraising event for the sun bears took place today at 3pm at The LUMA Hotel, Kota Kinabalu. Dr. Wong, Mr. Alan Wong (Executive Director, The LUMA Hotel) and Wayne Liew Executive Director, Crack Inc.) gave their respective speeches to the audiences present which included partners, friends, supporters, media, social media influencers, and the artists that contributed their talents for the event.
A total of 5 paintings were sold today and we hope to see more visitors to the art display at The LUMA Hotel during the next few days. The exhibition will continue until the 4th December 2022.
We would like to take the opportunity to thank The LUMA Hotel and Crack Inc. for exclusively adopting our sun bears and the amazing efforts to make this event happen. Not forgetting all talented artists that have contributed their time and efforts to produce stunning sun bear themed artworks for this event. Proceeds from each artwork sold will be contributed to the BSBCC.
Text by Laura and Daniel Bowtell
Photos by Jacquelyn Jill Jepiuh & Jude Ailton George
We are Laura and Dan, a couple of 12 years, on a 3-month trip exploring South East Asia. We have been fortunate enough to travel all over the world, and have had the opportunity to see animals in the wild. As part of our trip we wanted to visit Borneo and felt a volunteering project with the wildlife would be an incredible experience.
We came to BSBCC with no knowledge of the Sun Bear, other than this was the world’s smallest bear and it was classified as vulnerable under the IUCN. We had no experience in animal management or conservation and only a perceived idea of what is possible to achieve with an animal in captivity.
However, we were open minded, willing to work hard and excited to learn.
We were greeted by a team of keepers who were engaging, informative and so passionate and caring to each of the bears. We were each assigned a bear keeper as a buddy, who we shadowed daily in all duties. This gave us real insight into the day to day role of a bear keeper.
The bears have unique, rich and quirky personalities. When interacting with them via feeding, building enrichment and providing medical care; we were able to experience these rare, precious and endangered animals in a way that is not possible anywhere else in the world.
Additionally, we were privileged to spend time with Dr Wong, the CEO and Founder of the BSBCC and Pradeep Aggi Gunasegaran, the Bear Care Operations Executive. These sessions gave us a fuller understanding of sun bears, as well as the wider mission and project to preserve these incredible animals.
As part of your time as a volunteer, you are able to build a larger enrichment for a bear or a group of bears of your choosing. One bear, Ronnie Boy, loved to sleep up high therefore we repurposed a structure to create a platform for him to sleep on. It was exciting to see him using this and gave us a true sense of achievement which is a lasting memory.
Spending time with these bears was an amazing experience however we hadn’t anticipated how inspiring it would be working with local people employed at the centre. Eating, and socializing with the team gave us an insight into Malay culture, as well as the ability to learn some of the language. By the end of the 2 weeks we felt part of the team and part of the BSBCC family.
Whether studying the topic of animal management or conservation, looking to make a difference in todays challenging world or simply want to try something engaging and new… volunteering at the BSBCC is for you! It has certainly changed us both personally and professionally for the better!!
Text by Tzea Sawchuk
Photos by Jacquelyn Jill Jepiuh & Jude Ailton George
Hi I’m Tzea from Canada. I’m 56 years old, and when I had the opportunity to travel and volunteer, I was excited to be accepted for the Sun Bear Conservation Centre. Don’t let an amazing chance to help and learn about these magnificent Bears pass you by.
When volunteering here you will be paired with a Bear Keeper, Oliver was my Bear Keeper Buddy. I assisted him with daily tasks as assigned, like cleaning the bear enclosures, meal prep, perimeter checks, enrichment items and varies sundry duties. The work is very full filling since it is all for the bears. Each day I learned something new about the bears and the staff are always willing to answer any questions I had.
After seeing the bears each day, you can see the different personalities come through. The Bears are so endearing to watch. I was excited to assemble my enrichment idea with Oliver which was given to Itam. I was so excited to watch Itam climb on the log and find the hidden treats. It felt good to know that I was able to leave something to entertain her.
For me, my volunteer time was very satisfying and I’ve learned a new appreciation for these vulnerable little bears. I look forward to returning home to share the story of the Sun Bears and bring awareness and importance of protecting them. I want to share how people can help out even when they live far away.
For your volunteering choice, I highly recommend coming to Borneo to enrich the lives of the Sun Bears and yourself.
Text by Dr Yeoh Boon Nie
Photos by Jacquelyn Jill Jepiuh
We are extremely grateful to the Veterinary Dentist Dr. Cedric Tutt (Cape Animal Dentistry Services), Dr. Serena Oh (Wildlife Asia Veterinary Services), Dr. Reza Tarmizi (Danau Girang Field Centre), and Dr. Nabila Sarkawi (Sabah Wildlife Department) for their kind assistance in the dental treatment provided to 8 sun bears from 10 to 12 November 2022. Together with our dedicated bear keepers, we are proud as a strong veterinary team for this operation. Each of us plays our role in anesthesia, dental surgery, dental radiography, recording and recovery monitoring.
This marathon of dental treatment was no doubt exhausting, but it is all worthwhile seeing the benefited bears recovering well and devouring good food as the chronic dental pain was treated. Each procedure took an average of 1 to 3 hours including intraoral radiography, dental charting, dental extraction, and root canal treatment if indicated. Sun bears that are aged more than 10 years old often have bad dentition including fractures and worn teeth with pulp exposure, which causes chronic pain and potential infection. A thorough examination with intraoral radiography is essential to access the tooth root condition. Root canal treatment is indicated to salvage the broken tooth and therefore maintain the dentition integrity. Teeth especially canine teeth are very important for sun bears in defense and food prehension.
This collaboration is significant, and we are thankful to the Hasanah Foundation for its continuous contribution to our Sun Bear Welfare Project including veterinary care. We will continue our effort to provide the best care to our captive Bornean sun bears.
We would like to say thank you to SK St. Monica, Sandakan for the visit today! As usual, the group was given Sun Bear talk and Quiz by Environmental Education Officer before going to the observation platform to observe our rescued bears.
They were happy to see the rescued bears around the forest enclosures. We hope they had a great time here and gained some new knowledge about Sun Bears, while helping us to spread awareness by sharing experiences with their friends and family! Once again, thanks for coming to visit us, and your kind donation and souvenir!
Thank you Yu Yuan Secondary School!
We are very thankful for the teachers and students of Yu Yuan Secondary School, Sandakan for their fundraising efforts to support sun bear conservation work. A total of 40 students and 4 teachers visited our Centre yesterday to hand in their donations to us. The visit was welcomed by Dr. Wong Siew Te himself who gave an encouraging speech to the students to continue supporting environmental conservation.
We hope you had a meaningful visit and wish you all the best in your studies !
We are glad to be part of the North Borneo Rainforest Festival 2022. The two-day event that was held at Heritage Village Phase II, Sabah State Museum, gave us the chance to raise public awareness on nature and wildlife conservation as well as introduce BSBCC's efforts on conserving the world's smallest bear, the sun bear.
Activities were done to introduce the sun bears to the public, such as a talk about BSBCC from Dr. Wong Siew Te, booth exhibitions, wildlife face mask colouring, quizzes, and a forest animal magnet card.
Other than that, there are cultural arts activities, musical performances, and traditional food trucks that promote the diversity of Sabah's culture and nature.