Text by Pradeep Gunasegaran
Photos by Chiew Lin May
There is more exciting news about Linggam this month! After a successful integration session with Susie, Kuamut, Manis, Cerah and Jelita, the next steps to releasing Linggam with the five females into the forest enclosure were taken. Linggam and the female sun bears were rotated into Bear House 2 in order for Linggam to undergo his fence training once again after eight years.
On Christmas Eve of 2019, Linggam was introduced into the training pen to recognize the hotwire. On the first day, Linggam only looked outside into the training pen and refused to step into it. He only took the baits that were placed closest to him and consumed the bait in the bear house. He continued to behave the same way for the next two days of his release into the training pen. However, he was a little bit braver each day as he would venture slightly further from the bear house BUT his back legs would still be touching the door of Bear House 2 while he stretched out to take his baits and looked into the training pen. At times he looked into the training pen, he also looked at the food that was ‘out of his reach’.
On Day 4, Linggam completely went into the training pen without having his back legs in Bear House 2. The few days of looking at the other bait that was left far from his reach probably pushed him to venture into the training pen. By being in the training pen, he was also able to see Manis, Cerah and Jelita who were around and that probably calmed him down as he slowly explored the area in the training pen that was closest to the bear house.
The following day, Linggam was showing more of his bravery and he slowly moved further into the training pen. However, his training process on this day was tougher as there were much other stimulation around the training pen. The sound of the chain saw being used by the staff and the wild pig tailed macaque troop definitely startled him a few times as he kept running back into the bear house. Although he appeared scared multiple times, Linggam showed resilience by sniffing the air in the training pen and slowly making his way out again. At the end of the day, Linggam stayed overnight in the training pen and did not come back into the bear house.
Seeing that he has familiarized with training, the next phase of this training exercise was to get Linggam to touch the electric wire. This activity is important as Linggam would need to recognize the electric wire that would be present in the forest enclosure. By recognizing the electric wire, this would ensure that Linggam would not attempt to escape from the forest enclosure. Thus, in order to make him touch the electric fence, food was placed closer to the wire. Linggam approached the food but he did not touch the wire. The following day, the food was then placed directly under the electric wire. Shockingly, Linggam showed that he actually remembered the electric fence. Linggam would sniff the food that was placed underneath the electric wire, move a few steps behind, lower his body to the ground and then reach out for the food with one of his legs. AFTER EIGHT YEARS, he still recognized the electric fence. ASTONISHING!! Majority of us would believe that animals, especially the wild ones, would not have a good memory to remember something like this. There and then, Linggam passed his fence training and was given free access from the bear house into the training pen for him to become comfortable and confident with moving around the two types of pens. By being in the training pen, he was also able to see the forest that he would soon enter to join the five female sun bears.
After twelve days since releasing Linggam into the training pen, on the 4th of January 2020, it was time for Linggam to be released into the forest enclosure. The guillotine door from the training pen to the forest enclosure was initially opened to observe Linggam’s reaction. He was immediately curious as he left the bear house into the training pen. Even though he was curious, he was still unsure about stepping into the forest enclosure. All he did was sniff the air at the door and walk along the fence. Seeing that he was really curious, banana coated with honey was thrown at the front of the guillotine door to motivate Linggam to enter the forest enclosure. He was most definitely aware of the treat that was just within his grasp, but due to his fear he was not able to enjoy it. The frustration built up and Linggam began pushing the furniture in the training pen. After a few minutes of throwing a tantrum, Linggam quickly dashed out into the forest enclosure and quickly gobbled up his reward.
The first bear that noticed his success was Cerah. From a distance, she had a good look at Linggam and she slowly tried to approach him. However, she was unsure about approaching this new individual in the forest enclosure; she moved away and vocalized towards Jelita. As soon as Cerah vocalized, Jelita came and both of them approached Linggam together. As they met, Linggam, Cerah and Jelita clucked at each other. Immediately after interacting, Linggam started moving along the fence of the forest enclosure to explore the environment. Cerah and Jelita just followed his back as Linggam showed that he was not afraid of the forest enclosure. UNBELIEVABLE! Eight years ago when he entered the forest enclosure, it took him a long time to start exploring the environment. There Linggam was entering the pool of water, sniffing the plants, sniffing the trees, and even sniffing the electric wire. As he was exploring, he then met Susie and they started interacting the same way as they did in the bear house. After interacting a while, he continued exploring and foraging for food as well. Soon enough, it was Kuamat who came searching for him and they interacted together for a long time. Once he was done, he continued with his exploration of the forest enclosure. Day 1 of being released into the forest enclosure and Linggam behaved liked he truly belonged there, being all confident. Could it be due to the female sun bears that made him relax and enjoy the natural surrounding? Is it possible that an animal that lives in solitary in the wild could be taught to live like a wild bear in captivity by joining a social group? The outcome was astonishing and today, Linggam is enjoying his days being in the elements of nature and being a sun bear with Susie, Kuamut, Manis, Cerah, and Jelita.
Text by Pradeep Gunasegaran
Photos by BSBCC & Chiew Lin May
Linggam, a male Bornean Sun Bear, has been a long residence at the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre (BSBCC). 2020 will be exactly 10 years since he arrived at BSBCC. Linggam is about to turn 16 years of age but unfortunately he has lived a majority of his life in captivity. He was handed over to Sabah Wildlife Department back in 2004 when he was a just a little cub. He was found at a logging camp at Kampung Pinangah and was brought over to Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre in the beginning. As he was growing older into a matured bear, he was then relocated to Lok Kawi Wildlife Park before returning back to Sepilok to be cared under BSBCC.
Under BSBCC’s care, Linggam was released into the forest enclosure in 2011 after he went through his fence training. His release into the forest enclosure wasn’t a straight forward process as majority would expect it to be. Initially, he was afraid and wary of the naturalistic world ahead of him and required plenty of ‘baiting’ done to coax him into venturing into the forest enclosure and staying further away from the Bear House. This clearly shows that he was probably habituated to captive surroundings; within bars and on concrete floor and never really knowing that he belongs in the forest.
With the addition of Forest Enclosure 2 in 2015, the sun bears in BSBCC were shifted around between Bear House 1; which connects to Forest Enclosure 1 and Bear House 2; which connects to Forest Enclosure 2. Since Linggam was always released into Forest Enclosure 1 in solitary, he was shifted to Bear House 2 to give opportunity to other sun bears which could get along living a social grouping to be released into the Forest Enclosure 1. Since his relocation, he has not been into the forest enclosure. The situation for Linggam became such because of the amount of sun bears that fell onto BSBCC’s shoulders and being a matured male, he couldn’t go out with the other males and Linggam was known to be combative by his fore ‘owners’. Therefore, more sociable individuals were being released into forest enclosures while the unsociable males had to take turn going out.
Fast forwarding to 2019, an initiative was started to introduce Linggam into the forest enclosure once again. Linggam has been sitting in Bear House 2 adjacent to 5 female bears; Susie, Kuamut, Manis, Cerah, and Jelita, a stable social group of female sun bears that occupies a section of Forest Enclosure 2. It was decided that Linggam would be integrated into this social group because Linggam never showed aggression towards this group of females through the bars that separated them and if all goes well, Linggam would be able to enter the forest enclosure again but this time it would be in a social group setting.
This new adventure of Linggam’s started off with a physical interaction with only Susie in the Bear House. At the first, the slightest and sudden glimpse of Linggam, Susie barked but after getting a good amount a sniffing through a little gap, they had an approving social interaction. After a couple of days, a good friend of Susie’s, Kuamut, was introduced to Linggam. This integration was more exciting as Kuamut was equally enthusiastic about meeting Linggam. Then, Manis, the oldest female in the group was chosen to meet Linggam. Linggam appeared to be most interested with playing around with Manis compared to the other two individuals and Manis was pretty submissive to Linggam’s advances. With such approving integration results with Susie, Kuamut and Manis, another progressive step to releasing Linggam into the forest enclosure was taken. All three of the female bears were incorporated with Linggam in the Bear House, a risky step as the amount of bears have increased in a much more smaller space compared to an actual forest space. HOWEVER, Linggam was not overwhelmed with the amount of bears that appeared in front of him and the three females were not ‘battling’ out for Linggam’s attention.
After a number of integrations between Linggam and the three females, Jelita was decided to be his new social engagement. On the day that Jelita was supposed to meet Linggam, Cerah, her good friend decided to not leave Jelita alone in the Bear House. Cerah refused to enter into the forest enclosure to accompany Jelita, who was segregated into an adjacent pen. When both Linggam and Jelita were integrated, the process went on smoothly. However, Cerah on the other hand was not too happy with the setup as she could no longer see Jelita beside her. Cerah started vocalizing and crying out for Jelita. This behavior of Cerah’s then made us decide to bring Linggam and Jelita to the pen adjacent to Cerah for her to see that integration between Linggam and Jelita. Cerah did not move away from viewing her good friend and she kept calling out for Jelita. When Jelita climbed up to the hammock, Linggam pursued Jelita as well by climbing the bars. At that moment, while the bars were separating Linggam and Cerah, both of the sun bears got to sniff each other and there was no aggression exhibited. It was then, on Linggam’s supposedly first interaction with only Jelita, turned into integration with Cerah as well. ON THE FIRST DAY! During the integration, Jelita was observed trying to protect the other as Linggam would play fight with Cerah but ultimately, the integration had no aggression between the sun bears and was successful.
Then, Linggam’s integration with the female sun bears was continued with days where Linggam would be integrating either with just two or three female sun bears. After sometime, another big step was taken by getting Linggam to interact with all five female sun bears concurrently in the Bear House. The female bears had no issues being put together in the forest enclosure but they would get feisty when placed together in the Bear House. We feared that any form of aggression between the female individuals would trigger the aggression within Linggam causing the entire initiative to go south. Thankfully, the 1st integration of all six individuals worked out perfectly. Linggam was able to play fight with any individual while the other individuals who were not actively interacting with Linggam could just continue with any activity in the Bear House. It was such a heartwarming process to see Linggam’s social skills with the groups of female sun bears. His behaviour was NOTHING LIKE mentioned before. No aggression just pure playfulness from him and he was good a reading their body language.
Today, Linggam is being sent out to the training pen for him to familiarised with a miniature enclosure with electric fence. Upon the completion of this training, he will finally be released back into the forest enclosure with Susie, Kuamut, Manis, Cerah, and Jelita. Hopefully with the help the female sun bears, he would not be scared of venturing into the forest enclosure like before. Besides that, Linggam is also afraid to climb into the high structures in the Bear House. Maybe being in a social group, he will slowly be encouraged by the other sun bears to climb up a tree someday. The thought of seeing Linggam finally behaving like his wild counterparts is what BSBCC is all about, REHABILITATING OUR BORNEAN SUN BEARS!
Text by Susantie Saliman (Intern Student from UNIMAS)
Photos by BSBCC
If Jelita is the so called the Princess of BSBCC, then Linggam is the prince of the Sun bears here at BSBCC.
Linggam is one of the most well-behaved bears in the Bear House. With his princely behavior, aging 14 years old, his name “Linggam” came from one of the God’s name in Hindu.
Other than being noticeably handsome, Linggam can be identified by looking at his narrow muzzle, shiny coat and slender stature.
A little bit about his history; Linngam arrived in August 2004, weighing only 3.5kg as a cub after found at a logging camp at Kampung Pinangah. According to the loggers, Linggam was found alone. He was taken into the care of Mr. Awang who then gave him to the Sabah Wildlife Department. He was sent to Sepilok and was later transferred to the Lok Kawi Zoo near Kota Kinabalu. He returned to BSBCC Sepilok in July 2010.
Linggam is best known as the handsome and prince bear in our Centre. He is a very attractive bear with big brown eyes and a gentle face. Often found chilling inside his basket - rarely found being fractious. Though, he is a bit picky when it comes to food. Linggam favors bananas over corn and he does not like pumpkins and coconuts. When eating bananas, he will put it on his left hand, peel it with his right claws then take out the banana out from the skin using his long pinky tongue. Like any other bears, Linggam loves playing with his enrichments. However it depends on what type of enrichment given. He is a picky prince after all. Linggam also loves playing with water and often found splashing water from his water bowl especially in the evening.
A group of six staff members from Tradewinds Plantation Berhad visited BSBCC on November 3rd, 2017. Dr. Wong Siew Te brought them for a tour around the observation platforms to see the bears in the forest enclosure. This company has also adopted three of our sun bears under the My Bear Adoption Programme, named Jelita, Linggam and Simone. Adopting a bear is a great way to learn about sun bears while helping BSBCC meet the costs of rehabilitation. Funds raised by the adoption program are used to better the lives of all bears. Thank you for your visit and the support!
By Paul Clenton
It has now been 2 weeks since the door leading from Linggam’s pen into the rainforest enclosure was first opened for him. What a transformation! To begin with he was cautious, timid even, when facing the challenge of going outside. Now when I see him he is relaxed, roaming freely around through the trees. A bear enjoying life in the type of place a bear should be.
Often when he is out, Linggam is very difficult to photograph, but here he very considerately came over to where I was, foraging for food.
It makes me quite emotional to see this; there is such a significant improvement in a relatively short time, even for an adult bear which has grown up in captivity. This is what rehabilitation is all about. There is a small but dedicated team here who are working incredibly hard to make things like this happen. The BSBCC is yet in desperate need of funding to make successful releases back into the wild happen, but I feel privileged to be here now as the project is starting to gain momentum and start to take these important steps.
Lastly, I’d like to add that just a few days ago, 3 female bears -Cerah, Jelita and Lawa- also began to take their first steps into the forest. There is a post about it here by Shauna Tay, a fellow volunteer at the BSBCC.
By Paul Clenton
DINING OUT - April 15, 2011
I watched with a great big smile on my face today as my mate Linggam ate his breakfast “alfresco” for the first time. He not only spent much more time venturing out and exploring today (periods of 8,3,2,2,1,1,1,1 & 1 minute, respectively), but he also ventured further away from the security of the bear house, exploring hitherto unknown logs and bushes.
I now wait for tomorrow with some excitement to see how far he will go next. His food will be a little further out tomorrow and if I have time beforehand I’ll make some kind of a puzzle feeder to keep him occupied outside. More on Linggam’s progress tomorrow.
April 18, 2011
Linggam continues to do wellIt was day 4 for Linggam today. He left the door to his pen with his body held higher than on previous days and appeared noticably less anxious. During his first few minutes out there were several occasions when there was a loud noise nearby, on previous days he would have darted back in upon hearing them, though today he only flinched a little before continuing on with his business.
As yesterday, his interest in the outside was very much correlated to the availability of food. Today however he spent a little more time outside. I observed him outside for durations of 7,5,2,4,2 & 1 minute respectively, over a period of 30 minutes… approximately 2/3 of the time.
Linggam’s rehabilitation (day 6)
April 19, 2011
Linggam is continuing to do well. He was outside for >75% of the available time today. He appears very confident in the area near the bear house. The next stage will be to place his food further away, in the forested area. I can’t wait to see how he does tomorrow!
April 20, 2011
Linggam pushes his boundaries & Rungus is lovely
I was monitoring Linggam today, his 7th day in the forest. Though he didn’t spend more time outside than he chose to yesterday, it was pleasing to see that he explored twice as far from his pen than he had done on previous days.
On another note, I checked on my dear Rungus in her pen today and found her swinging back and forth in her tyre swing. She is so adorable.
This afternoon I dd a session with the staff on the feeding habits of wild sun bears, based upon findings from Wong’s own fieldwork. Tomorrow I shall follow this up with a session on nutrition and the diet of captive sunbears.
Text by Shauna Tay
Day 1, 12th April, was the beginning of Linggam’s adventure. After a year of being in the indoor enclosure with BSBCC, for training purposes, and who knows how many years before that in a small cage, he is finally ready to be introduced to the outdoor enclosure. The outdoor enclosure is a large patch of the forest that is fenced up for these newly introduced bears, making sure they don’t run off without us knowing that they have the ability to survive on their own. Many would expect that once the gate is opened for Linggam to enter the huge forest area he’d run at the first chance he could get. However, that’s not the case for many of these bears. They’ve been captive animals for most of their lives – all they know is their cage or pen. They don’t know yet that they belong out in the wild.
We placed various fruits all over the forest area, as well as on his ramp to encourage him to come down from his pen. He took several minutes to even take the nerve to sniff the ramp. I reckon he was just shocked by the sudden gush of nature’s smells that entered his pen. He would take a step out, take a deep – yet quick – sniff, then jump backwards further into his pen. This would continue for a while until at one point he actually kept walking down the ramp eating fruits, extremely cautious of course, and took his first step on the soil. It took 5 seconds until he went into mad panic. He started running back and forth underneath the gate, too frightened he didn’t find his way back up the ramp, and jumped 3 feet through his gate and safely back into his pen. After that heart-breaking incident, he didn’t try come back out. It’s clear there is some room for improvement!
Day 2, 13th April, was the second attempt. We set everything up just like before. He repeated what he’d done the day earlier, as he would take a few steps then reverse back in over and over again. Eventually, he made it to the bottom of the ramp and touched the soil again. It’s extremely sad to know that this may be the first time he’s ever stepped on soil. After a few minutes of eating the nearest fruits he fled back into his pen, overwhelmed with all his five senses working harder than ever before. He still has very far to go, but this is without a doubt his first step to an even better quality of life.
Day 3, 15th April, Linggam made great progress as he stayed out of his pen longer than he had the previous days. He was still extremely cautious and aware of everything around him, but he wasn’t as hesitant to step onto the ground this time. However, you could see the pattern – the more food around him, the longer he’d be out; the less food around him, the less time he’d be out. There was a gradual decline in minutes with each time he came out of his pen. Our next step: place a food puzzle outside. It’ll be a motivation and challenge for him to stay in the outdoors. Let’s hope the next few days he’ll find it easier to take a few more steps. After all, each step is one more step to overcoming his fear.
Text by Paul Clenton
Linggam is a very handsome, 6 year old male bear with a gentle and friendly personality. He was first brought to Sepilok as a cub (only 3.5kg) in August 2004 after being found at a logging camp at Kampung Pinangah. After a stay at Sepilok Linggam went to Lok Kawi Zoo. He was transferred back from Lok Kawi due to reported aggression problems (though that has never been observed here) and lack of space. Since coming here he is noticeably healthier though perhaps slightly underweight. Linggam is currently undergoing training and this week was finally able to go out into the forest enclosure.
I was watching him discretely while he took his first tentative steps out into the natural world. The transition to a wilderness environment is challenging for an adult bear which has grown up in a world of iron and concrete, but as I observed him it was obvious to see he was constantly thinking, calculating the safe distance to go from his doorway. Some might criticise him for not just running off outside and climbing a tree, but it is this caution he was demonstrating that keeps bears away from hazards in the wild. His approach did not surprise me; he seems the most pensive of bears, when I reflect upon howe he interacts with his enrichment items.
I look forward to observing him over the coming days and weeks to witness his discovery of the wonderful piece of rainforest habitat he now can call home. Watching a bear simply “be a bear” is an incredible thing to do.
Natalie has started to eat some more solid food. She gets 2 trays of rice a day, just like the other bears. The only difference is that her tray has only about 1/4 the typical serving. Awww, baby! She looks so adorable when she tucks in to her rice porridge with her little paws resting either side of the tray. She also gets several servings of milk, served like some posh coffee with chocolate flakes, only her warm drink comes with dog biscuits!
Text and photo by Wai Pak Ng
Last month was a busy but a fruitful month for all of us in BSBCC. At first we have Ah Lun and Julaini come to our centre. Then, we accepted Kudat and Panda. We were pretty much nonstop on rescuing these caged sun bears until recently we having another three bears which add up to 19 bears in our centre!
The three latest rescued sun bears I mentioned above are Gutuk, Linggam and Toby. They are all males but come from three different age group: old, mature and young cub. Gutuk and Linggam used to house at our facility (the old bear house at Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre) before BSBCC was set up in 2008. They were sent to Lok Kawi Wildlife Park few years ago due to lack of adequate space and resources to taking care of more bears. However, things are different after the setting up of Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre. With the establishment of BSBCC, we have our state of the art new bears house and another state of the art forest enclosure. This is time to rescue more caged sun bears and let them have a better living environment especially in the forest enclosure.
As for Toby, he was just rescued by the Sabah Wildlife Department recently from a pet owner and was housed in Lok Kawi Zoo temporary before he was sent to us. Now Toby is the youngest bear in our centre!
Within a month, BSBCC's resident bears increased from 12 to 19 bears. For me, this does not increase our burdens, but a chance for us to keep our promise to provide a better living condition to those captive sun bears. This is just the beginning for BSBCC, its still a long way to free our bears and let them live in their nature home. So, let’s us work together and witness our growth!