Text by Seng Yen Wah
Photos by Chiew Lin May & Seng Yen Wah
Sika is growing up and now she is a nine months old bear cub. Currently, she is in the stage of curiosity where she is often playful and energetic in everything she gets her claws and nose in.
Recently, she went into two exercise pens and now she got the biggest exercise pen in the quarantine area. There are lots of TOYS filled in the bear den such as dry leaves, decayed wood, fire hose enrichment, wooden enrichment and a blue barrel. All the enrichment was prepared by the keepers and volunteers with their love and care.
Once the door is open, Sika is very alert with her surroundings. She took her steps slowly and carefully to enter the bear den. She explored everything and every corner of the bear den. Upon realising that her new environment is safe, she immediately found that this new pen is the biggest playground that she has ever seen! She started to pick her favourite decayed wood and began digging her merry way. There are lots of yummy snacks in the decayed wood such as the red ants and the termites thus encouraging a more natural digging behaviour and a more natural diet that will keep her belly rounder.
After exploring all the decayed wood, it’s time for Sika to explore what type of enrichment lies in this pen! With lots of sniffing, exploring, and rolling around, I wonder what could make me, a baby cub happy?! The answer is toys! From the day Sika arrived at the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre, we took note of her progress and development and took note of her enthusiasm and love towards the enrichment tools we give her.
What is enrichment, you may ask? Enrichment is a toy/tool for a bear that can help to encourage a natural bear behaviour. When a bear is playing with the enrichment, they are learning how to use their sharp claw, strong canine, long tongue and their natural bear skills. Playing with these toys also help fill Sika’s time with positive reinforcements. Sika’s favourite enrichments are The Proposal, Stick Paradox, Happy Sack and much more. She cannot pick her most favourite enrichment but she loves all the enrichments that she has received.
Other than enrichment, she likes to spend time with her care taker. Sika came to BSBCC when she is just a four month old cub. She had been kept as a house pet in a chicken mesh cage. She lost her mother and was taken away from her natural environment due to the selfishness of human beings. The bear cub is adorable but keeping them as a pet is illegal! Every child needs a mother even animals. Sika has no maternal care thus disrupting the natural cycle of learning survival skills that are important for them in the wild. Therefore, her caretaker in BSBCC becomes her surrogate mother and teaches her some of the skills so she can learn to survive and defend herself in the forest in the future.
Sika is still growing under the care of us. Our hope is that she can one day have courage, gain her strength and head back to the forest once she is ready to be a real bear. BSBCC will always have her back. We believe she can do it!!
“ It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.” – E.E. Cummings