Text by Nathaly Velarde
Photos by Chiew Lin May
Hello my name is Nathaly Velarde and I’m from Sweden. I will graduate in 2 months from Spanga Gymnasium. Every year my school sends 4 volunteers to Borneo for an internship so we can gain experience, knowledge of how a zookeeper works. Which I’m so thankful for and I hope they keep sending more students to Borneo so they learn everything we have learnt about sun bears and rehabilitation.
Text by Susantie Saliman
Photos by Susantie Saliman, Chiew Lin May & Seng Yen Wah
Henlo! Santie here and you’re about to read about my magical life in BSBCC.
Well, first and foremost, just like any other folks, I had no idea on how my 10 weeks internship at BSBCC would change me into a whole new person when first applying. BSBCC was the one and only agency that I applied for, and it turned out that I had got the placement. Hooray!
So a little bit about myself, I am a 21 year old, 2nd year Zoology student at the Malaysia Sarawak University (UNIMAS) from Kota Belud, Sabah. I am a voluntary animals’ slave, naughty, spoilt, loud and outspoken girl, who was here for my 10 weeks of industrial training. So let’s start off with….
My Buddy Keeper
My internship life here wouldn’t be as fun as I experienced without my Buddy’s guide. His name is Mizuno Merek Men, people call him Awin. He’s the strongest keeper in my point of view. He is muscular – physically and mentally (HAHA). By working alongside him, for 10 weeks, I gradually get stronger as days passed by. He taught me on how to deal with working life, hence matured me in many aspects. He trained me to become tougher. Awin became a very big influence to my new addiction of body fitness. He gave me courage to keep moving on when I was about to give up, as well as always being there when needed. He became a super-protective brother of mine and the only staff member that I cried to a lot. Even though I’ve thanked him multiple times, I still need to thank him again, for providing me the never-ending support, care, comfort, attention, hospitality and all. Without him, I would still be my old weak self.
Working environment and Staffs
From the moment I stepped into the centre until the very last day of working, I received excellent hospitality that I never experienced anywhere before. I couldn’t ask for more. The first day of work even felt like I had been working there for years.
The staff at BSBCC are wonderfully friendly and were always ready to share their stories with me. I adore every one of them. They’re very well experienced and worth more than gems. Some people look down on them because some of them didn’t get the chance to attend higher education, but I never looked at them that way. I treasure these peeps in my treasure box inside my heart.
To be honest, working here can be very tiring. I witnessed some volunteers and interns being so exhausted. This wasn’t the same for me. Maybe I was just too passionate, hence I did everything voluntarily because I know everything done was all for the sake of the bears. The fact that I was working in a joyful environment with all days filled with laughs and fun, made me enjoy this kind of fatigue. Even during the last day of work, I still wanted to work the next day. It was so heart-breaking to leave these big-hearted peeps behind.
This is the best part (and teary). I never imagined how working close to big mammals would feel. But thank God, fate brought me here and I got to experience working close with the adorable, smallest bear species in the world. I got to know them more – anatomically, behaviourally, as well as their personalities, diet, and all.
I loved every single bear including the ones in the quarantine area, even though I never worked close with them. All of them deserve to get loved hence, I have no specific favourite bear. From Amaco, Panda, Chin, Along, Simone, Kudat, Noah, Nano, Wawa, Dodop, Mary, Boboi, Kitud, Tan Tan, Sunbearo, Loki, Ronnie girl, Montom, Susie 2, Kala, Rungus, Ah Lun, Julaini, Fulung, Ah Bui, Bermuda, Ronnie boy, Phin, WanWan, Mamatai, Om, Sigalung, Cerah, Jelita, Susie, Kuamut, Manis, Linggam, Kina, Sika, Soo, Logan, Romolina, and Diana. I love them all.
I wish someday, they’ll all get back to the wild where they belong. The thought of not being able to see them closely, no longer feeding them, breaks my heart. 10 weeks at BSBCC is more than enough for to become strongly attached with the bears. How much I wish they know that I love them and that I want them to live the happy life that they’re supposed to.
Outreach – Education Team
Besides working at the Bear House, I also got involved in outreach programmes on two occasions with the Education Team. I also assisted visitors at the observation platform several times. The hardest part for me here is that, I am really bad at talking and persuading people, especially the locals. It’s a sad fact that foreigners were more interested in the conservation effort of sun bears compared to the locals. On the other hand, through outreach programmes, I got to know many new big-hearted people from conservation sectors and I enjoyed exchanging stories with them.
Last but not least, I stayed at the staffs’ house called Bjorn Hala for a month and a half (6 weeks). By staying here, I learned to live in a moderation and became attached with some of the staff who also live here - Mizuno, Boboi, Becca and an intern from University Science Malaysia (USM), Ummu Atiyyah. These gems had cooked me meals throughout my stay here (because I’m a lazy cooker) hence, results in me being so clingy with them.
To sum up, I had a very wonderful time throughout my internship period here. Working at BSBCC hasn’t only taught me about working life and conservation. It taught me what life is and how to deal with it – strong and maturely. I am beyond grateful for being given the opportunity to work at BSBCC and meeting lots of new people who are gems to me. Even though I am no longer working at the centre, I will never stop spreading awareness to the world. The bears and the people here will always be in my heart. Thank you BSBCC ♥
Text by Amanda Wilson
Photos by Amanda Wilson, Chiew Lin May & Seng Yen Wah
Heyyo everyone! I’m Amanda Wilson, 22, and I’m here to talk about my experience volunteering at BSBCC. I’ll be entering my final year in University of Malaysia Sarawak under the programme Animal Resource Science and Management or better known as Zoology. For a period of 10 weeks, I experienced more adventures than I ever expected whilst interning at BSBCC. When asked about how I got to know about the centre, I am actually a local from the nature city of Sandakan. I was born in Kota Kinabalu and raised in Sandakan since a very young age. So, I’ve visited more than a couple of times and heard a lot about the wonderful things the people here are doing for the world’s smallest bears. I’ve always wanted to volunteer at the centre and be part of the work they are undergoing. That’s how I decided to volunteer at BSBCC as part of my Industrial Training.
Before I started volunteering, I was way too nervous about working, but from day 1, the staff at BSBCC were nothing but warm, kind, friendly and welcoming. I felt like I had another family here at BSBCC. It was so heart-warming to work with like-minded people, people who have big hearts for animals. I am touched by how much the Bear Care Team are so passionate, loving and caring towards these bears.
The centre stands on 4 main goals which are Education, Welfare, Rehabilitation and Research. Throughout my volunteer days, I am grateful to have been able to balance time working within the Bear House and also with the Education Team. On a daily basis, our work comprises mainly of husbandry works, from cleaning cages to feeding the bears, fence checks, pool cleaning and maintanence works. The fun part would be going jungle trekking into the forest to look for termite nests, collecting banana leaves and making various enrichments for the bears. From food-based enrichments, making dry cages, sensory and also structural enrichments. It didn’t take me long to adapt to the tasks at the Bear House as everything was properly managed and scheduled on time.
I also love feeding the bears in the outdoor enclosures as I love seeing them enjoy their time in the forest. That would be another attraction at the centre as visitors could see the bears in their natural environment. When the staff challenged us volunteers to recognize all the bears, I thought it was impossible but now I could say I can almost successfully tell them all apart from each other. Since working at the bear house, I learnt a lot about the sun bear’s behaviours and the different traits as well as personalities each bear has. I personally think sun bears are such precious creatures and wish more people would learn about these forgotten bears.
I feel so lucky to have been able to care for them, work so closely with them and even looking at them, as it made me so happy, especially when they’re enjoying the life that the people here at BSBCC is working so passionately to provide for these precious bears. The work that these people are doing here is incredible. No matter how tough the work is, they do it all so wholeheartedly.
To be honest, the work here is very physical. Nevertheless, I have never felt discouraged as a girl but more encouraged by the staff around me, who are always there to urge me on and guide me through. From sawing ironwood, working with hand drills to carrying sacks full of coconut husks, I’ve done everything with ease. Thanks to the time I’ve spent here, I got the chance to build my stamina and train my strength. Not only did I learn to work with hardware tools, I surprised myself everyday by my own capabilities. I’ve learnt underestimated myself too much before this, working here has made me braver and eager to look forward to new task everyday. Although the work here is heavy duty, I never felt drained as the Bear House is always filled with happiness and laughter thanks to the people around me.
As a local, I feel disappointed and devastated that not many of our local people know of the existence of the world’s smallest bears. Though I am hopeful that the efforts done through all the outreach programmes will someday be fruitful. During my time at the centre, I got to participate in 3 various outreach programmes and events. I was lucky to be able to participate in events held in Sandakan and also go for outreach programmes held at schools outside of the district.
As volunteers, each of us were assigned to a buddy keeper. Here’s a shoutout to the best big brother and my partner in crime, Mizuno Merek Men and Susantie Saliman (UNIMAS coursemate). Theres nothing my buddy keeper couldn’t do and I am ever so thankful for he has always been so caring and motivating towards us. He pushed us to be better and put his trust in us to carry out bigger tasks which gave us confidence.
Also to all the staffs especially the ones in the Bear Care Team, without them, my days would be dull. I saw the sincerity and passion they have for these bears. I felt the love and joy they have for what they are doing. I am happy to begin venturing into conservation work through volunteering here at BSBCC. Working with the Bear Care Team will always be one of my most cherished moments in life. They showed me passion, determination, professionalism, dedication, hardwork and team work. Conservation work is not always easy but with the right team, no matter how small, no task will ever be big enough.
Big thanks to Dr Wong Siew Te, for always making time for our weekly volunteer meeting session despite his busy schedule. I’ve learnt a lot through sharing his own experiences and knowledge not only about sun bears and the centre, but practically about everything we could talk about. Also to the Education Team, thank you for guiding me and encouraging me throughout my participation in various outreach programmes. Talking to visitors on the platform has also helped me overcome my fear of talking to people. It was amazing to be able to engage with the public and educate not only other people but my ownself about sun bears, wildlife conservation and just nature in general.
Thank you so much ! You all are beyond amazing <3
I will cherish every memories and will surely come back in future. Cheerio!
Text by Ummu ‘Atiyyah Mohamed Talhah
Photos by Ummu ‘Atiyyah Mohamed Talhah & Chiew Lin May
My name is Ummu ‘Atiyyah, a Zoology student from Universiti Sains Malaysia and I was an intern at Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre for 8 weeks.
Around 3 years ago, I didn’t even know bears existed in Malaysia. That’s something a Zoology student should be ashamed of. One day I saw a picture of my lecturer at a Bear Conservation Centre, so I searched the name of the centre online and to my surprise it was in Malaysia.
A few years later, I find myself applying for a role as an intern at the centre. A few months later, I’m already in gumboots and holding a bucket of fruits.
I love working in the kitchen. Whenever I have to go through the bananas, I will always think of the song from The Jungle Book, the Bear Necessities. Nevertheless, I love going out to feed the bears in the enclosure. Seeing them out in the forest, closest to their natural habitat really made me happy, especially when I get to see them napping high up on the trees, digging, and playing.
The first half of the day is usually planned routine work and after lunch we usually get to relax a little by making enrichments.
Sometimes I feel like I’m in an advertisement promoting Malaysia. Orangutans minding their own business just only 1 metre from me, hornbills flying to a nearby tree right in front of me, as well as their unforgettable sound, almost like the sound of a duck. Not just that, countless number of unknown beautiful birds, insects, reptiles, amphibians, the cute pygmy elephants, pygmy squirrels and even giant squirrels! All these sightings really make me appreciate our flora and fauna especially.
Not just the animals, I have not yet met any rude Sabahan’s during my 8 weeks stay. I admit that I am among those who call themselves slow learners. Even so, the staff, especially the bear keepers have always been motivating and patient with me. Being the only Muslim in the house, I am so relieved and grateful that they can try to understand and respect my beliefs and my “pantang larang”.
There are days where Dr Wong would have discussion sessions with the interns and volunteers. We would talk about almost everything from the bears to conservation and environmental issues, Malaysia’s forest and palm oil issues and a lot more. One time, he showed us a quote from Jane Goodall which goes like this, “Only if we understand, can we care. Only if we care, we will help. Only if we help, we shall be saved.”
Some days we were assigned to go for outreach programs at schools, and some days we were assigned to go on the platform to talk to the visitors. Although I haven’t been the very best at talking with strangers, I really enjoyed talking to people especially those who were interested to know more.
Believe it or not, during my 8 (short) weeks of interning, I got to differentiate the bears based on how they look, and even based on their behaviours!
After a few weeks at the centre, I start to think more and more about the bears especially the ones that cant be released outside to the enclosure due to reasons that cannot be avoided. I tried to think of how I can help to minimize their stress and improvise the environment that they are currently in.
Finally, six days prior to ending my internship, I managed to provide a humble dry cage for Amaco, the oldest bear who is sadly never going to see the forest again. Brandon and I gathered dried leaves, grasses and twigs and placed them on the cage floor. For me, a dry cage is more like a fake forest, where the bears can get comfortable. Amaco and Panda (his companion) were curious enough to sniff around like cats. I wish I could’ve done more for Amaco and the others but I really hope the dry cage helped Amaco and Panda in any small way it can.
Two days before I left, a windstorm and a short but heavy rain hit the centre at around 4:30pm. We waited for the bears to come back to the bear house, fearing that there might be fallen trees, which might cause bears to escape. In the end, there was only one bear, Wawa who hadn’t returned. Everyone including the people from Wildlife Rescue Unit and other organizations came to help. David (a staff) accompanied me and another three interns in the bear house. After all of their hard work out in the dark and in the rain, Wawa finally came back. I admired all of the staff’s heroism, something I never thought I’d be able to witness. Days that usually end at 5:00pm ended at 7:00pm that day. Only after all that did we know that some of the pens in the enclosure as well as the platform for visitors were destroyed. Looking at the pictures really broke our hearts.
“Who is your favourite bear?” I always get asked this question. I usually just pick names just to give an answer because I don’t think I actually have favorites and not because of the cliché “I love them all”, but because I have weak spots for some of them. Week after week, my list of “favourites” just keeps on getting longer and longer.
Some are fierce and some are gentle. However they are, I still love them all even though they couldn’t care less about me.
When I try to look back on the first day that I arrived here, with me being awkward with everyone, it feels like a lifetime ago. However my 8 weeks internship feels so short! The bears now have a special place in my heart, and strangers became friends. How things changed since I arrived. Even though the work was tiring, hot and sweaty, I always find myself missing the days where feeding the bears was a routine for me.
To all the bear keepers and staffs at BSBCC, I thank you all so much for making this experience something so fruitful for me. Though I smell like cow dung every evening, I sincerely loved the work at BSBCC. I apologize if I have been too slow or if I asked too many questions (I know I do). I hope you will all continue fighting for our bears and for Malaysia’s forests.
Text by Nabilah Hidayah Binti Misnen
Photos by BSBCC
Hi, my name is Yaya and I'm 20 years old. I came all the way from Negeri Sembilan to do my 10 weeks internship at Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre, after changing my mind from completing an internship at a veterinary clinic. I am currently a final year Animal Health and Production student in University Putra Malaysia, Sarawak.
Undergoing my internship at an animal conservation isn’t the most glamorous work. The first advice I can give you from my first-hand experience is: do not wear your favourite shirt when you start working! And I wouldn't wear your new sneakers either, because you don't even know what might happen to it. Despite all of this, it's an uhh-mayyyzing and rewarding experience even though there are many tough activities involved, such as cleaning up their dirty beds, hiking to feed the bears. There are also fun things to do here especially, to spend time with the bear keeper team. They are very friendly and helpful and make the surroundings very pleasant for the internship students like me. I'm not going to tell you about what I actually did here, in BSBCC because it is hard for me to describe! So, lots of pictures coming through.
Animals need to be treated gently as they also have feelings and seem to understand what is happening around them. It was a great pleasure to see them eating and playing around. Completing my internship at BSBCC was rewarding on many levels. Not only in its educational form both from an animal care and natural history perspective, I also got to appreciate the challenges of operating and managing a wildlife facility. It is also empowering because we know we are able to make a difference in the lives of the animals. They are already in captivity, so the very least we can do is help to improve their quality of their lives.
Mark my words: There is a soul in each and every animal, and they should be treated with respect.
This is the best reason to intern or volunteer in an animal conservation centre. It's a lesson that has sown deeply into my heart. The sun bears have not left my mind since I've been back in Sarawak. Those few weeks with the sun bears and the people were very intense, in a beautiful and heart-breaking way. I can honestly say that I not only fell in love with the bears, but also the people I met. I hope to visit BSBCC again with my friends to share this experience and to help out wherever we can.
Text by Jessamine Thong Jiah Kher
Photos by Jessamine Thong Jiah Kher, Chiew Lin May & Seng Yen Wah
HI WORLD!~~ (with a very high pitch voice) hahhaha Ok… that’s a bit annoying, sorry…
Anyways, hi! I’m Jessamine Thong who is taking a Diploma in Animal Health and Production programme in the University Putra Malaysia Kampus Bintulu, Sarawak (UPMKB) and I’m here to share this my journey of undergoing an internship in BSBCC.
To be honest, I had no idea bears even existed in Malaysia before working with BSBCC and right on the first day, the friendliest team of bear care coordinators fed me all the facts on sun bears, and I was quite lost, but well, we learn don’t we?
So, my internship lasted for 2 and a half months and well, it was unexpectedly wonderful! Sun Bears! Wow! Why not?! They are Beautiful! But what really made BSBCC beautiful is how the staff and volunteers really care. Let’s get on with my adventure shall we?
Well, if you’re undergoing a volunteer programme or an internship, the centre would always assign a buddy to you! Having a buddy is a wonderful idea as it feels like you have someone that can be close to you when you’re new. They would be like an additional family member that you never knew of! They’ll teach you, guide you and take the fullest care of you during your time there. So who’s my buddy? Well, it’s the legendary senior bear keeper DAVID TAHIR. He taught me a lot from the first day I came, until the day I left. From cleaning cages to making creative enrichments, there’s just nothing he can’t do. Best buddy ever!
I had learnt a lot thanks to you David, my buddy!
What did I like most, during the whole internship?
Well, if I had to choose… it’s definitely going to be building enrichments! Yup, building is so much FUN! And the feeling of achievement after you have finished and knowing that the bear really enjoyed their new play equipment, there were just no words to describe the joy that I felt.
Well, I love building things and thanks for involving me on building these wonderful enrichments!
There was lots of events going on during my time there, and one of the favourite was of course, SUN BEAR DAY (16 May 2018) – Making a lot of enrichments and also getting involved in giving visitors a good old hands-on experience in making these enrichments.
Bjorn Hala – ‘Bear Home’
This is actually a house where the staffs and volunteers live during their time here. This brings me back to the first day I’ve arrived. Andy, the ‘manager’ of Bjorn Hala: I’m so sorry that my bag was super heavy, I’ve no idea what made it that heavy but thanks for helping me with it! And also the Bjorn Hala family, thanks for welcoming me warmly, and make me feel at home.
-Bojrn Hala Family portrait –
From the left, Mizuno, Andy, Wawa, Becca, Jasmine, Jessamine and Jeniur
- Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre Family –
Dr. Wong’s and his wonderful team of ‘Sun Bears’
All the bears and people I have met here, as well as all the love and care they shared, the food they fed, the unexpected experience they gave me, are unreplaceable and memories I will hold forever. Thanks for taking me out on so many adventures and this unforgettable experience.
That’s quite all from me. Curious on what made my internship so unique? Just come here and experience what I had, what all the other volunteers and interns had, then you’ll know, why it’s gonna be one of the best part of your life. Trust me, there will be no regrets!
Text by Nur Athirah Binti Asrif
Photos by Nur Athirah Binti Asrif, Seng Yen Wah & Chiew Lin May
Hi my name is Nur Athirah. I am 21 years old and am currently a final year undergraduate Zoology student from the University Malaysia Sarawak. I was born and raised in the nature city of Sandakan. I have known BSBCC since they started but never had the chance to pay a visit. In the past I have always aspired to be a volunteer to work with the bears but here I am finally, sharing you my own story!
A little heads up; there will be tons of pictures of my days in BSBCC here. Well as the saying goes, A picture is worth a thousand words, so bear with it! :)
As a requirement for my studies, we have to undergo an industrial training for a period of 10 weeks. I have zero hesitation upon applying BSBCC as my internship placement and am totally grateful to be accepted. I admit that I was one of the luckiest to have done my industrial training in this centre. For all the 69 working days, there was not a single day that I didn’t gain a new experience. It was truly a life changing journey which I believe I would not get from any other places. Each day in the centre has always been interesting and I will always look forward to what will come on the upcoming days. It is a place that brings a more positive side of me as I was able to venture myself into more extraordinary and more challenging tasks and that is what makes my journey a memorable one. In a way, it acts like a rehab not only for the sunbears, but also for me.
Sunbears are the smallest bears in the world and are one of the least known. It was devastating for me as a local to see how little do our own people know about these beautiful creatures. As I have the opportunity to get engaged with the public during educational outreach and also at the visitors centre, I realized that most of the locals have very little knowledge about the sunbears let alone the wildlife. But a huge thanks to our papa bear, Dr Wong Siew Te for all his hard work in which more of the sunbears that in danger are saved and more people are educated.
Formerly, BSBCC has four main pillars which include welfare, rehabilitation, education and research. During my days in this centre, I have the opportunity to work with various departments which covers almost all the four pillars.
First off is welfare, which are mainly all the work in the bear house. Our daily routine in the bear house is well organized as we follow the schedule provided. From feeding to husbandry, everything is neatly organized and is well timed. During my first few weeks working, it was a tough ride as it was a whole new experience. I have never cleaned (bear) cages before but during my first day I managed to clean five and I feel rather proud of myself. As days passed, I feel accustomed to the routine and felt less lethargic during work. It was a tough ride but trust me, even with a small, unfit physical state like me, you be able to do things you have never imagined before as you try you’re very best.
As a volunteer, you will be assigned to a bear keeper whom will be guiding you throughout your volunteer period. Here is a picture of me and my buddy keeper, Mr Brandon Khoo Lee Ming cutting fire hoses for our project, the Noah’s Ark. Every volunteer are also encourage making a new form of enrichment for the bears regardless of the materials. For me, I made a small bunk bed which kind of resembles a hammock for the bears to simply relax and play.
During my internship period, I was lucky enough to experience the whole procedure when a bear deceased and when a bear is rescued. I was able to do taxidermy on the deceased bear, Gutuk and also joined the team when the new rescued bear arrived, Soo.
Other than that, in the process of rehabilitation, I was given the opportunity to observe Noah and Nano from their fence training until the moment they are released into the forest enclosure. Observing this lovable duo had been a bittersweet memory. It was a touching moment for me as I was lucky enough to witness the joy of the bears when they are released into the forest enclosure for the first time. Plus, I also wrote two story blogs about Nano and Noah which entitled “Cannot have the sweet without the bitter” and “A castle of wood, A playground for bears”.
This centre enables you to work with every task available. Your tasks vary from sawing bamboos, collecting termite mounts to hand drilling ironwoods. Regardless that you are a small girl, you will get the chance to do all the tough duty. The bear care team will always be there for you and guide you with all the work. I never waste my chance and always ready to learn something new because; where else will you have a chance to improve your craftsmanship?
Also, cheers to my sidekicks, Chee Yong and Batrisyia which are also interns from Zoology,UNIMAS. We are the first intern students from UNIMAS to have done our industrial training in BSBCC and are said to be the best, haha (just kidding)! It was an amazing journey working with these people and I would never have all the fun things without them.
This centre had taught me a lot not only about the sunbears but about passion, determination, hardwork, teamwork, skills and so forth. Huge thanks to Dr Wong Siew Te for all the knowledge and the time he spends just to have a meeting session with his volunteers. A round of applause to the bear care team who make my days in BSBCC as one of the best moment of my life. Every day at work is filled with laughter and fun. The bear care team had taught me a lot and have gave me so many insight especially in teamwork. Every day the team do noble jobs wholeheartedly and it is what I aspire to do in the near future. It took a one whole amazing team to make a globally known conservation centre.
Not to forget the educational team, for giving me a chance to visit three various schools around Sandakan. It was a wonderful opportunity to be able to educate our own people about the sunbears and the wildlife.
Thank you so much for everything. I promise I’ll come back in the near future. Till then,
Love, Barks and Big Bear Hugs!
Text and Photos by Shirley Soh
I’m very blessed to have the opportunity to complete my internship for 14 days at BSBCC, although it is just a short period of time, but every moment that I spent here at BSBCC is so memorable. The cute and cuddly Sun Bear, the green and enchanting forest and not to forget all the kind and friendly staff have make my stay here in BSBCC unforgettable. I’m a 3rd year vet student and the reason that I chose BSBCC as the place for my internship is first, because I have always been having interest in wildlife especially in conservation programs and second, because it is closed to my hometown.
From the first moment that I saw the Sun Bear I could totally understand why people would catch them and keep them as their pets, their cute and cuddly features make them looked so adorable. Illegal pet trade are the main threats to the Sun Bear population besides habitat loss and illegal poaching.
During my period of internship here at BSBCC our daily activities include fence checking, cleaning, preparation of feed, feeding, and making enrichment for the bears. To be honest, for the first few days the task is quite challenging and tough especially for a small girl like me, but looking at the bright sight I get to have a free workout session every day and as I get used to the daily routine, things became easier and easier. Not to forget all the friendly and funny staff here that help to make my days brighter, for every day is filled with joy and laughter.
Although I have not learn a lot about the conservation work, but just by being closed to these wonderful creatures are more than enough for me. And yes, 14 days is just too short for an internship/ volunteering period. Lastly, I would like to take this opportunity to thank BSBCC for accepting me here for my internship as well as to all the staff that help me out a lot during my period of internship. I hope that the establishment of this place would create greater awareness and to educate the public about our Bornean Sun Bear.
Text and Photos by Naziah binti Muntil
Becoming an intern at BSBCC was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had. Before this, I only had a greater exposure on small animals (cats and dogs) and ruminant; less on wildlife animals. By having an internship here, it’s a great opportunity for me to open my eyes and expose myself to become more familiar how wildlife field is like.
2 weeks into the internship, the other interns and I were given the opportunity to join the Bear Care Unit. I helped the team to prepare the foods for the sun bears thus I was able to learn about their foods (what they eat and what foods that cannot be given to them). I also enjoyed joining outside feeding which we fed the sun bears in the pen.
One of the interesting parts throughout my internship here is doing enrichment for the sun bear. By doing this, it helps sun bear to perform its natural behaviour and designed the surrounding to mimic sun bear’s natural environment.
Lastly, I would like to thank Mr Wong Siew Te, Thye Lim, Lin May, and all the bear keepers due to their generosity and time and the knowledge and experiences you all shared with me will be useful as I continue my college career and start the next stage of my life. BSBCC is a place that I will always look back at as the beginning of my inspiration to work with wildlife species and be more active in conservation.
Text by Wai Pak Ng
Last April, a group of post grad students from University Putra Malaysia (UPM) visited to our centre to learn more about sun bears conservation, research and management. One month later, two UPM vet students also chosen BSBCC as a place to carry out their practical training. Mellissa Aw and Lim Seik Ni are the fourth year vet student. During their three week practical in BSBCC and Sepilok Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre, they were assigned to various jobs and duties from preparing the food, cleaning the cages, helping out in the clinic, to making a new cement floor for the bear!
I am glad to hear from Mellissa one evening where she said: “no doubt working at the bear centre is tiring, but I enjoy it very much”. Yes, as a keeper, I understand that there are nothing can be so rewarding to see your animals have a pleasant and comfortable place to stay and enjoy their toys or enrichment. We all reckon their hard work in our centre and really appreciate their care to the bears.
At last, BSBCC hopes that both Seik Ni and Mellissa had learnt something, gained their experience and share with their friends when they go back to UPM. BSBCC would also like to wish them have a very successful future.