Text & Photos by Seng Yen Wah
"We found a baby bear in Bintang’s den!" – Our resident vet, Dr Boon, was telling us from her walkie talkie.
It was an ordinary day. On 20 May 2021, in the morning, keepers, as usual, started their routine in the bear house. The bear keeper, Marshah, was doing the faecal check. Suddenly, he heard a soft crying sound from the bear den. Then, he checked every den and found a tiny black thing in Bintang's den. Then he asked David, a senior bear keeper, to take a look. As soon as David confirmed it was a bear cub, he informed Dr Boon immediately. Dr Boon came quickly to inspect the bear cub and informed everyone in BSBCC.
After that, the day had become an extraordinary day for the BSBCC.
In these 100 days, Little Luna has been through a lot. Let pictures show how the growing process has been for Luna in these 100 days!
Bintang did a good job being a mother for the first time. She took good care of Luna.
She spends every second around her cub fulfilling her all needs. When Luna is crying, she returns to Luna and cuddles her to comfort her no matter where she is. Bintang loves to interact with her cub and keeps watching all her activities even when she feels tired.
She is always alert to her surroundings to ensure Luna is safe. The mother's love is sweet and warm!
In the morning, Bintang was nibbling on her cub more frequently. Luna was less active. We decided to check on Luna and found that she was weak.Her body temperature was low, multiple dry wounds on her body and necrotic skin on her ears. After checking her condition, it is found that Luna’s injuries may have been caused by Bintang's over-grooming.
After that, we made a difficult decision to separate Luna from Bintang. The decision was tough for us as there was no doubt in Bintang’s mothering abilities. However, Luna was in poor health. Our vet and keeper quickly took her to the clinic and treated her immediately. Since then the keepers cared for her around the clock 24/7.
Luna’s health condition was unstable. Fortunately, she survived many critical moments, such as maintaining her in the oxygen chamber several times.
Slowly, her health improved.
Luna couldn't wait to see the world. It was so exciting, her eyes opened!
Luna gets ready to crawl! She can lift her head to look around. Then Luna starts doing mini push-ups, lifting or supporting herself up on her limbs. She learns to lift herself up on all her limbs. And she begins to rock forward and backwards. She surprised us with her learning ability. Soon, she was crawling around.
Luna is seeing the sun for the first time. It is so great! The first time of going outdoors, she was feeling anxious. She stays with the keeper who slowly introduces her to every little thing around her. Soon, she looks around and starts to fall in love with the sun, leaves and nature. She might think this world is so cool!
Luna is teething!
Meet the forest!
Everything in the forest is new to her! She never spends enough time exploring around, playing with leaves and digging in the soil. It is wonderful to see her running and hopping in a happy rhythm.
Walks in the forest allow Luna to explore the forest from an early age and learn the forest skills needed to survive in the wild, such as climbing, foraging, digging, etc.
Luna had a first taste of solid food,a banana! After that, she tried watermelon, snake fruit, pineapple, sweet potato and carrot.Her favourite is still the banana!
Hold on to each tiny moment. Luna is growing too fast! She is 100 days old today! There is still a long journey for Luna. With love and patience,we hope Luna grows up healthy and happy. Happy 100 days, Luna!
Text by Yeoh Boon Nie, Pradeep A/L Gunasegaran & Seng Yen Wah
Photos by Seng Yen Wah
Wonderful news, everyone! BSBCC has welcomed an unexpected birth on 20th May 2021. This has completely caught us by surprise as we do not have any plans on captive breeding due to the overcrowding situation in our centre. The arrival of this little one brings an array of emotions from joy to excitement and also anxiety as well since we have no experience in caring for a mother with a newborn cub. However, every lesson has starts from somewhere.
Bintang, a six-year-old adult female Bornean sun bear, the mother, was observed nursing and caring for her new born attentively. As we allowed instinct to take its course, the keepers were also diligently observing and recording the sow-cub interaction.
On the very morning of day 8, we noticed the cub appeared to reducing suckling on Bintang. Worried about the condition for the cub, Bintang was isolated and the cub was taken for a quick examination. The examination showed that the cub was experiencing hypothermia (low body temperature) and had severe ears injuries as well as skin infection. Due to this, the tough decision was taken to separate the cub from the mother. Once we took out the cub from the den, she was at a mere weight of 353g and required immediate medical attention.
The decision was definitely a tough one for us as there is no doubt in Bintang’s mothering abilities. She was devoted for her cub as she was observed to be frequently nibbling on her cub and which was thought normal grooming behaviour. However, she over-groomed her cub and eventually she inflicted injuries on her cub.
Despite the sleepless nights, we are blessed to see the cub steadily gaining weight and growing every day. She is showing all of us that she is a fighter as she survived through many critical moments such as maintaining her in the oxygen chamber several times. Hand raising her has been a big challenge but the team is working in shifts to take care of her round the clock.
Today marks her one-month of age. In her development milestone, she has opened her eyes on day 28, doubling her weight on day 32 at 702g, and her wounds have recovered well. Although she lost both of her external ears, we believed she would transform into a beautiful sun bear.
Stay tune to update from us regarding our new born on our social media platforms. Please continue to assist us in our constant battle to provide the best care for her and as well as our other 43 rescued sun bear.
Video by Chiew Lin May
Precious little Bintang had been torn from her mother by a poacher. It is a tragedy to lose sun bears from the wild. Sun bears are protected species by both national and international laws.
Watch Bintang rescue and start to explore her new home - it is a delight to see how brave she is. She is learning and loves the forest world. She looks towards a brighter future. Just look at how happy and healthy she is now! Please share her story!
Video by Chiew Lin May
Bintang on her first day of arrival vs four years later.. She was rescued from an illegal house pet and was sent to the BSBCC on 15th July 2014.
Today, Bintang grows up learning to be a wild bear. It takes a lot of time and love for Bintang to forget her traumatic past.
We have two things that sun bears do not, which is the voice and freedom. Please use your voice to help them!
Video by Chiew Lin May
“Tearing tree bark is one of my favourite hobbies!”
Bintang is enjoying play and tear up bark!
Text by Seng Yen Wah
Photos by Chiew Lin May & Seng Yen Wah
Bintang was originally known as Ronnie, named after her previous owner who surrendered the bear to the BSBCC on July 15, 2014. Bintang was just a five months old female sun bear cub and weighed 7.9kg when she arrived in BSBCC. Her history is unknown. Owners who find Sun bear cubs will attempt to reason for holding them captive, but no explanation is suitable for the holding of a wild animal. Keeping a wild animal as a pet, such as the Sun bear, is illegal. In 2017, this bear was renamed to “Bintang” when Albert Teo Chin Kion and Borneo Eco Tour Sdn Bhd, both passionate enthusiasts into changing a sun bear’s life, adopted Bintang. Another reason for changing the name to “Bintang” is because her chest mark appears as a sun-shape, sprinkled with light black dots. “Bintang” is a beautiful name which incorporates the Malaysian meaning of “star” to represent her unique chest pattern.
Rescued at such a young age, Bintang spent little time of her cub life alongside her Mother; sun bear cub should remain with their Mother until two/three years old, when living in their natural habitat. The individuals who separated Bintang from her Mother, weakened her chances for survival as she was unable to learn valuable life skills from a young age. Therefore, BSBCC needs to take good care of her and teach her how to be a real bear again. She has been offered lots of fruits such as durian, mangosteen, tarap, rambutan and many more. Other than that, in order to encourage her natural bear behaviour, lots of enrichments are made and given to her. She shows her improvement day by day.
Sunbearo, Loki and Bintang are integrated in quarantine. She met her bear brother, Sunbearo and her bear sister, Loki within this time and all were getting along extremely well. They spend time playing fighting, suckling for comfort seeking, resting and sleeping together. Bintang’s suckling style is different to others; her paw will be placed on one of the friend, whilst suckling.
On 22 November 2015, Sunbearo, Loki and Bintang integrated with Montom and Susie2 and then Damai. On 24 December 2015, they were released to the forest enclosure. They were foraging together and found some bugs, ants and termites but they didn’t seem too interested in climbing. Loki was the first to climb. After being anxious on the first day, Bintang and Sunbearo both started to climb across the following few days, which made them fall in love with climbing. In 2016, the bears integrated with Kala, Mary, Boboi, Kitud, and Tan Tan, as well as Dodop and Wawa. There was no signs of aggression between them. Bintang is very friendly to all the bears, but Damai is her best bear friend ever! Bintang loves to spend time with her bear friend, to play fight, rest and just hang out together in the forest enclosure.
Bintang is a very kind-natured and gentle sun bear. She does not mind being dirty an actually loves digging and tearing up the dead wood across the forest enclosure. She enjoys her nap time and snoozing on her favourite tree. Bintang is an excellent ground nest builder. She tries to grab as many big leaves from the trees and arranges it nicely on the ground. She will continue to build even if her friends try to interrupt her, with a lot of determination to have a nice comfy nest to rest on afterwards.
Bintang is showing excellent survival skills in the forest every day. We hope that soon she will be one of the next candidates for releasing back into the wild. She deserves to stay in the wild and be a WILD bear once again!
Text and Photos by Chiew Lin May
Like most mammals, bear cubs require intense maternal care during their first few months of life. As cubs grow and gain mobility, they romp and play, but they never stay far from their protective mothers, who keep them safe from predators and other mishaps. The mothers also teach cubs the secrets of survival— where to find food, and what to eat. – Siew Te Wong
The rescued sun bear cubs have to learn to live together. The interactions between bear cubs can help them to develop and learn some skills that are needed in the wild. On August 25, 2014, we introduced Ronnie to other sun bear cubs, Sunbearo and Loki. However, when Ronnie was moved to quarantine area during her first arrival at BSBCC, she was not very welcomed by Sunbearo where Sunbearo kept growling at Ronnie. Therefore during the first integration, our team monitored them with extra cautions and were prepared for a sudden fight between them.
Luckily, after opening the sliding gate between their dens, Sunbearo was the first to initiate the play and it was Ronnie first contact with other bears. Both of them spent the most of the time playing at the small platform and basket. On the next day, Ronnie was integrated with another bear cub, Loki. Loki was very curious towards Ronnie and barked on her during their first meeting. When the two bears met, both of them played and wrestled immediately.
On August 29, 2014, we integrated Ronnie with Sunbearo and Loki. Ronnie body size is small as compared to Sunbearo and Loki. They are now learning to enjoy their life again after suffering the pain from the loss of their mothers and being kept as pets by illegal poachers.
Sometimes, Ronnie continues to play even though she is already tired and exhausted. They like to climb, chase, and bite with each other. These three bears are getting along very well and showing no signs of aggression.
However, Ronnie seems to be the dominant one if there is food. She becomes slightly aggressive by growling and barking to whom trying to approach her. She also makes it clear that she is no longer interested in playing but to continue eating. Nevertheless, the three of them still mingle well as Sunbearo and Loki perceived the message from Ronnie clearly!
Over the past few weeks, they explored, played, wrestled, climbed, foraged and rested together in the big exercise pen. Ronnie is now able to live in community and loves her new companions. She seems to become more playful and active in the presence Sunbearo and Loki. All of us are very excited to see her begins her new life with other bears.