Text and Photos by Chiew Lin May
On the 2nd of March 2017, a sun bear cub was handed over to the Sabah Wildlife Department named BJ. He was found after being purchased in Sonsogon village, Pitas, and was sold for the price of RM 300 and then was kept as a pet. He arrived at BSBCC on the 22nd of November, 2018. He is a two year old, sub adult male bear weighing 32.20kg.
After living alone in a cage, BJ was finally free from trauma and now has made some friends for the first time in his life. On the 14th of December 2018, BJ was integrated into a larger social group of female bears – Kina, Sika, Soo and Diana, who would help him adjust to his new life and learn how to be a bear again!
Here we can see how the introduction went:
As soon as BJ saw his new friends, he stood up on his hind legs, began sniffing and pawing them to start play fighting! They showed their strong canines and sharp claws!
He was such a handsome and kind bear towards the group. It is good to know that he is welcomed by them and they also rely on each other for comfort, protection and love. Although sun bears are by nature solitary animals in the wild, the bond between a mother and her cub is strong during the time they are together. During the integration, sun bears can learn from each other as they communicate and play together.
BJ has proven himself to be a friendly bear. He also smiles which shows a few wrinkles on his face.
It is great that BJ has accepted this wonderful new friendship. Kina and Sika are BJ’s bear play friends.
Sometimes, BJ wants to play with Soo and Diana, but both of the female bears seem to ignore him. Once BJ started sharing the large dens with the other female bears, he immediately began exploring. He has found the simple pleasure of good friends. He is a happy go lucky bear who loves running around the dens and convinces the others to play with him by sniffing or pulling them. He is always filled with curiosity and enjoys exploring the enrichment around the dens.
They spend their days wandering around the dens, digging up the dead wood, climbing on the structural enrichment and sharing their toys. They are doing things together and seem to enjoy each other’s company.
For the rest of their first week together, there was no aggression found and they were accepting of each other as it did not take too long for them to become social. Now he has four lovely female bears to keep him company. It was a delight to see him grow into a healthy and loving bear where he could truly be himself.
Text by Seng Yen Wah
Photos by Chiew Lin May & Seng Yen Wah
Today, an estimates two year old, sub-adult Male Bear known as BJ, was sent to BSBCC by Wildlife Rescue Unit (WRU), the Sabah Wildlife Department (SWD). This Bear is now the 60th Bear to have been rescued by BSBCC. On 19th of February 2017, he was purchased in Kampung Sonsogon, Pitas with the price of RM300 when he was just five months old. After that, he was being sent to Lok Kawi Wildlife Park on 2nd of March 2017. BJ is in good health condition. Fur is shiny black and he appears to be bright and alert. He weighs 33.8kg.
His history is still a mystery. Within the wild, a Sun Bear cub will naturally stay with their Mother until they reach the age of two or three years, where they then venture off as a solitary Bear. BJ was found at a young age, without his Mother, leaving an explanation that the Mother was poached and killed, and BJ an orphaned cub. Every Bear Mother has a natural instinct to protect and raise their healthy cubs, therefore abandonment, by the Mother, is not a true explanation to finding Sun Bear cub alone, like BJ.
He was alert during his first arrival. This is a totally new environment for him and would need time to adapt to his new surroundings. We will keep you updated on his progress. From now, BJ will receive good care from the BSBCC Bear Care Unit. We hope he will gain courage and strength, to be able to return back to his natural home and become a REAL WILD BEAR again in the future!
In Sabah, the Sun bear species are a “Totally Protected” species, under the Sabah Wildlife Conservation Enactment, 1997. On the 1st of September, 2016, Sabah State Assembly passed the Wildlife Conservation (Amendment) Enactment 2016 comes into force. The enactment states that anyone who is caught hunting/attempting to hunt a Sun Bear will face:
It is important to remember that we have the opportunity to Save the Sun Bear’s and Say NO to Illegal Poaching! You could make the difference in their life.