Sunday, 11 Jun 2023
By Stephanie Lee
KOTA KINABALU: A three-month-old sun bear cub named Tenom has avoided a life of being reared as a pet, and is now at the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre (BSBCC) for rehabilitation. BSBCC founder Dr Wong Siew Te said that the 4kg cub was bought for RM500 from a village in the Beaufort-Sipitang border on May 29.
He said after Tenom was rescued by wildlife rangers, it was surrendered to the Wildlife Department and then transferred to the Lok Kawi Wildlife Park. “She arrived at the wildlife park on June 2, bright and alert, but with some old scabs on her head and body,” he said when contacted.
Wong said his team of conservationists only transferred Tenom to the BSBCC on Saturday (June 10).
“It was a long journey, but worthwhile for this cub. Tenom is an active and feisty bear. When we first met her, she was already climbing up and down in her cage,” he said. “She is vocal when unhappy and definitely makes sure she's heard. She has such a loud bark for a small body,” added Wong.
Wong said Tenom was very curious of her new surroundings when she was allowed out of her cage upon arrival at the BSBCC and did not stop climbing and exploring her new enclosure.
He said Tenom did not appear scared or nervous, adding that she enjoyed the dried leaves and furniture that was in the cage. “Her caretakers seem to be the ones nervous and scared seeing her climbing and hanging upside down,” he said.
At night, they observed her getting comfortable and sleeping on her pile of dried leaves, said Wong.
“Tenom is playful, curious, and full of energy. We are happy that Tenom did not end up being someone's pet at home and living in a tiny cage,” he said.
He said his team will continue to do their best to give Tenom the best “bear experience" and hope that one day, she can be returned to the forest.
“Nevertheless, it is sad to wonder about what happened to Tenom's mother. In an ideal world, Tenom would be living happily with her mum in the forest learning the bare necessities naturally,” said Wong.
He said bear cubs are adorable but they are definitely not meant to be pets, adding that it is illegal to possess a sun bear or any parts of the animal.
He said that the public should report such incidents to the Sabah Wildlife Department for action.
Wong said poaching still exists and remains active in Sabah, and hopes that all offenders are arrested and prosecuted.
On May 12, it was reported that a protected sun bear was shot dead after the animal attacked an elderly man in the Telupid district, some 220km from kota Kinabalu. The bear was also kept as a pet before it escaped its cage. “We have been trying to stop this madness in Sabah for the past 15 years. We have used up so much resources, time and effort for rehabilitation and this kind of rescue work should come to an end, but yet, this is still happening,” Wong said. Towards this end, he thanked Hasanah Foundation and the Sime Darby Foundation for supporting their conservation efforts.
Day 177: Give Betung the best of everything to speed her recovery.
Wow looks how Little Betung has grown! She had made great progress in the forest and learns the essential skills needed to survive in the wild. To her, freedom means to able to do whatever she want, explore, climbing favourite trees, forage for food and be herself! She loves this adventure.
It will be a long road to recovery. This illegal pet trade - unable to express natural behaviours, left the bears traumatized and alone. There is always a reason for HOPE. Now she is safe and lives a second chance at a happy life, thanks to people like you!
Sun bears belong in the wild and should never be kept as pets! You can show your care by adopting Little Betung here:
Beautiful transformation, is not it? ❤️
Please share Little Betung's story!
“It definitely was a perfectly cozy day for my Tuesday sunbathe time!” ❤️
The warm weather makes Kipaku ready to take a nap in the forest.
There are many who still want to destroy their forest for their own greed.Please take a stand to protect the remaining rainforest!
Follow the link to learn more about sun bears and our work here: https://www.bsbcc.org.my
Dodop was rescued by Sabah Wildlife Department in 2nd June 2016, where she was found kept as a house pet in Singgaron villager, Ranau district. Demand from the wildlife trade leads to sun bears being illegally stolen from the wild to become pets, attractions in zoos or used in traditional Asian medicine.
Having been kept long in captivity and habituated to people, she has lost the natural instinct to survive in the wild. Fortunately, with the help and care from our team, Dodop has finally learned what it is like to be a wild sun bear. She loves hanging out on the tree! Please share her story!
Susie was rescued by Sabah Wildlife Department on 07 August 2008. She was being kept as an illegal pet. The owner claimed that Susie was dancing inside the cage. Susie has lost everything –mother, love, wild instinct.
Fortunately, she has given a second chance. Now she is safe and having a lot of fun learning about forest life. She has grown into a beautiful strong bear! Please share her story!
Text & Photos by Chiew Lin May
Wildlife traffickers are breaking away at the dwindling populations of Sun bears that have pushed these smallest bears to the brink of extinction. Keeping a sun bear as a pet is illegal in Malaysia. Little Betung is one of the victims of illegal pet possession. She was rescued at the age of 5 months old. She had been found by a villager’s dog in an orchard at Kampung Betung, Ranau district in April 2020 and was kept in a tiny chicken mesh cage – in unfamiliar surroundings with no one to comfort her. She would have spent the rest of her life behind metal bars. During the rescue, she had severe malnutrition, was growth stunted, weak, and had a skin problem. She weighed just 1.4kg.
Thanks to the Wildlife Rescue Unit of Sabah Wildlife Department, Betung was saved and brought to a new home at BSBCC. Such a young cub needs special attention since she survives the trauma of being snatched from her mother. We did not give up and knew that a miracle will come to bring this bear back to being a healthy bear. Her appetite has come roaring back as well. Her balanced diet consists of a combination of milk, fruits, vegetables and vitamins. With her nutritious diet, she not only gains weight, her hair is also starting to grow! She now weighs 7.45kg. The chart below shows the growth curve of Betung as a cub (updated 01 December 2020). A real reward, slowly she began to make good progress and a steady recovery. She grows sweeter every day and is becoming more energetic and active.
On September 5th 2020, she is relearning to be a wild bear – getting a second chance at life!
She lacks the skills to survive in the forest because she was separated from her mother when she was far too young. During the ‘walk bear cub’, her surrogate mother will guide Betung during the development stages and teach her how to survive in the wild. Betung learns how to do and practice every day.
Betung now lives a free and happy life like she would have had in the wild. 3 months later, she has made excellent progress in the forest. Little Betung will use her strong claws to dig into soil to search for tasty snacks such as the trace elements or decayed logs in search of termites. She has plenty of opportunities to forage naturally. She is always enthusiastic about exploring new things around the forest and will lead us the way through her favourite trees! She is picking out some favourite spots. She shows to us she is an arboreal bear! She loves climbing tall trees and travelling through the lianas. She finds the bigger trees to hug! This will help strengthen her muscles. She looks incredibly excited. She is perfectly suited to life in the forest! Sometimes she will be cheeky towards her surrogate mothers. She loves blind play fighting, running or rolling about on the forest floor! She keeps up her adventurous and playful behaviour.
We will let the photos speak for themselves!
Throughout her life, Betung has only known a world of trauma. Love and patient care has given Little Betung the confidence and bravery she needs. The round-the-clock care will help her to survive from the trauma she has been through. She has realised she is safe and no one can hurt her again. The transformation we have seen in Little Betung has been simply amazing! Go Betung Go!
It will be a long road to recovery and she is slowly putting her past behind her. We all need to do everything we can to keep them safe. Little Betung can be adopted here: https://www.bsbcc.org.my/share-bear-adoption-thanksgiving-and-christmas-special-promotion.html
Video by Chiew Lin May
No doubt, he has been taken from his mother to be illegally displayed at Mini Zoo and spend his life in captivity. The trauma these little ones go through is heartbreaking to see. After 6 years of the rehabilitation process, it is amazing to see Sunbearo develop the vital survival skills necessary for life in the forest. He now ready to live a life of freedom that he truly deserves!
Due to the pandemic, Sunbearo and his friends had been rescheduled to be released back into the wild next year. But with your support, our ultimate goal to return them to their forest home keeps it going. You can help return them to safe forests, where they should belong. For them, everything is about to change. Sunbearo needs YOU! Please donate today to support the bear release programme:
Accounts Name: Sun Bear Conservation Berhad
Bank's Name : Public Bank Berhad
Account No. : 3195054919
SWIFT Code : PBBEMYKL
Bank's Address : Lots 149, 150, 151, & 152, Block 15A, Phase II, Prima Square, Mile 4, Jalan Utara, 90000 Sandakan, Sabah, Malaysia.
Contact number: +6089 202288 or +6016 5551256 (Dr. Wong Siew Te)
Click here to learn more about the smallest bear - http://www.bsbcc.org.my
Find us: Website: https://www.bsbcc.org.my/
Subscribe to the newsletter: http://www.bsbcc.org.my/newsletter
Background music: https://youtu.be/aeSOVhSZhxc
Video by Chiew Lin May
Wawa was found alone in the forest reserve and appearing weak. We believe her mother was likely killed by the poacher. She was only four months old and had not been properly cared for. The little cub was taken to BSBCC on 18th March 2016.
Over time, we noted the amazing changes in her behaviour. Wawa is a sun bear who is here to get the most out of life – freedom + honey + trees! She extremely smart and wild who loves to stay high up on trees! Please share her story!
Video by Chiew Lin May
Day 15: All she wants is loved and care Don’t miss out on a sweet Little Betung story! See how Little Betung progressed in her two weeks of the rehabilitation process. She is one of the victims of the pet trade. She was neglected for five months and kept in a small cage. When she arrived at BSBCC, her condition was emaciated, malnourished and growth stunted. Our team worked around the clock to build her strength. It is hard to imagine the life she endured before her rescue by Sabah Wildlife Department. Betung’s fighting spirit makes us reminded that she should be with her mother and free in the wild. She took every opportunity to be a bear cub!
She needed emergency veterinary care. Please buy a gift to help Little Betung the love and care she needs to recover - A healthy balanced diet, medical care and enrichment toys to keep her stimulated both physically and mentally. You can show LOVE by adopting Betung. Please share her story!
Everything was stolen from her by humans. Keeping sun bears as pets are “Illegal”. Please do not keep and support sun bear as a pet – Give back a life where they belong!
Adopt Betung: https://www.bsbcc.org.my/share-bear-adoption.html
To donate - https://www.bsbcc.org.my/donate.html