Day 134: The best enrichment of a bear always is another bear!
Most of the rescued bear in BSBCC is being separated from the mother bear and kept as a pet, which causing they spend most of the time having contact with human (direct or non-direct) in the unnatural environment. After living alone in a cage, on 25th December 2020, Little Betung finally free from trauma and now has made new bear friends for the first time in her life.
Through integration, it will help to change these bears' lives and provide them with more physical and mental stimulation, reduce stress, and allow them to learn vital survival skills. Rescued bears learning from each other (bear copying bear behaviour) facilitate the rehabilitation process in our centre - building up their confidence for stepping out again into the forest floor, climbing trees, and self-defense.
Interactions between Betung, Kipaku, and Itam have shown to be positive. Itam & Kipaku help her adjust to her new life and learn how to be a bear again. They enjoy playing, exploring, and making us fall in love with their beautiful smiles!
Text by Chiew Lin May
Photo by Sabah Wildlife Department & Chiew Lin May
A sub adult, male bear was rescued on the 5th of December 2009 in Taman Formosa, Penampang Baru, Sabah. He was found trapped in the farm and was kept in a small iron cage for a very long time. He was then brought to the Lok Kawi Zoo and sent to BSBCC on the 3rd of July 2010.
He is now safe, and we will give him the best chance of surviving in the forest. He was named “Julaini”, after the head welder who constructed the new bear house. During the arrival, he was a very aggressive bear, but now Julaini has become a big favourite for us – nicknamed wrinkled bear!
He has adjusted very well to his life at BSBCC.
During his rehabilitation, proper nutrition and various enrichment activities are given to stimulate his bear behaviours and to help him recover from the psychological trauma of being kept in captivity. Bear care staff will always introduce different types of enrichment toys and new treats for him. He enjoys fruit, coconuts and honey. On the 26th of May 2011, Julaini together with Ah Lun got to meet their new group of bears friends.
During the electric fence training, he appeared to be more nervous compared to the other bears. We never gave up on Julaini and used different types of his favorite food to lure him out to the forest. Julaini has a cataract on his left eye, but this did not let him give up easily in learning to be a wild bear. On the 13th of March 2013, Julaini finally took his huge first steps into a lifetime of freedom in the forest.
He walked slowly and calmly sniffed the forest air!
It was a blessing to watch him be a wild bear again and we were unable to control the smiles on our faces.
Julaini’s eyes widened with the thrill of TALL trees, dead wood, termites and blue sky around him!
Julaini is brave and finds the strength to venture out to the forest.
Julaini can be seen roaming around in the forest with his best female pal, Ah Lun, where they will forage, play fight, protect and get comfort together.
Julaini is not keen on climbing trees. Julaini loves to find a big tree trunk and fall asleep there.
He also never misses his favorite treats –termites and honey! He learns all the skills he will need to survive in the forest.
Over the past 10 years, Julaini has been given the chance to return to his natural habitat.
He seems to have a wonderful time and has proven to us that he is one of the loveliest bears in the centre.
There is a lot more freedom ahead for Julaini to enjoy!
Sun bears are vulnerable on the IUCN Red List. The global population of sun bears has declined by 30% in the last 30 years. This is due to the increasing threats to the species’ survival from illegal hunting, pet trade and deforestation, which has led to the rapid decline in sun bear numbers. It acts as a reminder to us all how important the need to protect sun bears from extinction truly is. Please give them a voice!
How do you spend rainy days?
Sun bears live in the tropical rainforests of Southeast Asia. Their outer layer of fur sheds water. Their coat is thick to protect against heavy rain or branches fall. Sun bear learn how to cope in the rainy season - either play or stay out from the rain. Wawa is waiting for the rain to be over so she can continue to play in the forest.
Sun bears play a vital role in seed dispersal and in maintaining the health of the forest ecosystem. One of the threats to sun bears is the loss of habitat because of the demand for land to grow palm oil or infrastructure. Please help use protect sun bears, their critical forest home, and their future.
We hope that you are well during this unprecedented time. Our hearts are always with everyone. We have been a GOOD bear this year! We are still the beautiful, fun-loving, and brave bears who touched the hearts of everyone we met. Because of you, we can receive nonstop loving care and begin new freedom living in the forest.
This Christmas, buy them a gift to help keep them healthy, heal from their traumatic pasts, tummy happy, enriched, have a safe forest home, and be wild. They absolutely love it! All the best things about Christmas rolled into one 🎄
Wishing you a very happy Christmas and a safe and healthy 2021. Sending a lot of love to you and looking forward to the day we can see you again. Love & Big bear hug!
To buy a special gift: https://www.bsbcc.org.my/shop.html
Background music: https://youtu.be/0qezq-rVb9s
Day 153: Agenda of the day – Be a “Forest Doctor”!
The feeding ecology of the sun bear is “opportunistic omnivorous”. Little Kipaku act as a “Forest Doctor” that helps control the forest pests such as termites. He keeps busy by digging and tearing dead log in search of yummy termites. He has an exceptionally superb long tongue which is used for extracting termites!
Today, Kipaku turns 10 months old and weighs 19.50kg.
Video by Chiew Lin May
Day 108: It is beginning to look a lot like Christmas 🎅
"Dear Santa, I love having a little cozy forest filled with branches, honey bees, tall trees, and termites! I am so excited for Christmas!” –Little Betung
It is going to be her first Christmas!
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
Text & Photos by Seng Yen Wah
There are eight bear species in this world and the sun bears are the smallest bear. Sun bears are named as the sun bear because they have the chest patch in the colour range of cream and orange which looks like the rising sun. Every bear has a unique chest mark. This is the best way of identifying an individual bear. This is because no two bears share the same chest mark pattern even when they are a twins.
Although sun bears are the smallest bear, they have the longest tongue. Their tongue can be 25 to 30cm long! The long tongue is an adaptation for licking honey and eating termites and ants. Other than invertebrates and honey, they are also eating a large variety of fruit species, especially figs. This is because fig trees produce fruit all year long. Therefore, sun bears are considered as the opportunistic omnivores. As the food is available all year round, sun bears are the only bears that do not hibernate.
Sun bears can be found throughout South East Asia. There are two subspecies of sun bears which are Malayan sun bears and Bornean sun bears. Malayan sun bears are found on the Asian Mainland and in Sumatra while Bornean sun bears are only found in Borneo. The difference between the Malayan sun bears and Bornean sun bears is their size. Malayan sun bears are bigger than the Bornean sun bears.
Sun bears are a forest-dependent species. Their large, sickle-shaped (curved) claws are important tools for them because they can spend most daylight hours foraging, digging and climbing. Sun bears are the arboreal animal. They are the excellent climbers. They often take naps on the tree. Sun bears climb trees in the wild to not only find fruits and look for honeybees but also to avoid predators such as pythons. I wonder if you know that sun bears can build a nest? It can be a tree nest or a ground nest. Sometimes people are confused between an orangutan’s nest and a sun bear’s nest. They look alike but sun bear’s nest look messier. Mostly they use the tree leaves and tree branches to build up the nest. They can spend a few days building a nest. However, not every bear has the ability to build a nest. Therefore, they will borrow other bear’s nests. People say sharing is caring and sun bears as well!
Sun bears not only spend time in the trees but also spend time on the forest floors. They are more likely to dig for snacks such as termites, ants, pill millipede and others. Or else, they are foraging for fruit in the forest. They grip on the tree bark or rip apart the decayed wood for getting yummy, crunchy snacks. The different types of invertebrates are the important protein source for them.
Sun bears are having outstanding sense of smell and excellent hearing. Among all the senses, the bear's eyesight is considered as not good. They are near-sighted but they can detect form and movement at a long distance. They depend on their senses to be alert to their surroundings. This is their wild instinct to protect and defend themselves.
"Each species is a masterpiece, a creation assembled with extreme care and genius." - Edward O. Wilson.
Sun bear is the least known bear species. Therefore, they need your attention for saving them from extinction.
Video by Chiew Lin May
Be the Voice Sun Bears Need!
The threats that are driving the smallest bears – Sun Bear closer to extinction all stem from us... Although listed as Vulnerable by the IUCN Red List. Their populations are decline by at least 30% in the last three decades. The main threats to the survival of the sun bears are poaching, illegal wildlife trade, and habitat loss. They are hunted for their gall bladders and other body parts for medicinal benefits.
Raise your voice for change! Their stories need to be heard. Please help to raise awareness and voice our concerns about the future of sun bears and their rainforest home.
If you see suspicious activities, be sure to REPORT any illegal wildlife trade to the authorities for action:
# Jabatan PERHILITAN Semenanjung Malaysia: 1-800-88-5151
# MYCAT Wildlife Crime Hotline: +6019 3564194
# Sarawak Forestry Corporation: +6019 8859996 & +6016 8565564
# Sabah Wildlife Department: 088-254767