Text and Photos by Chiew Lin May
In August BSBCC integrated Montom (a three year old, sub-adult male bear) and Susie (a four year old, adult female bear) into a new group with one adult, male sun bear (Fulung) and four adult, female sun bears (Mary, Debbie, Damai and Ah Bui). Montom showed positive interaction and easily adapted with his new friends. Montom and Fulung enjoyed epic wrestles together. They have spent a great deal of time sniffing, chasing, and rolling on their backs in a very friendly way. Damai is the exception and has shown less interest in play. Montom is a very sociable bear, whereas Susie is an aggressive bear and has displayed stress due to emotional trauma which resulted from her being kept as a pet. For the rest of their weeks, they integrated well and began to understand each other better. Debbie is the dominant female bear in this large social group.
Interaction between Montom, Susie with Ah Bui
Interaction between Montom, Susie with Debbie
Interaction between Montom, Susie with Fulung
Interaction between Montom, Susie with Mary
Finally the day came for Montom and Susie to feel the forest floor under their paws again. Although at the beginning it was a new environment for Montom and Susie with having to share the new enclosure with other bears, they are still adjusting themselves and getting along with their new mates. The whole group will be sharing one forest enclosure! It is hard to imagine that both of the bears ever thought their life could change. Susie is still aware surroundings and is having the time of her life. It has been a delight to watch Montom and Susie grow into happy and healthy bears.
Thankfully Montom and Susie are growing stronger and are progressing well. Their natural ability gives hope to our team that in the future they will learn all the skills they need to return to their natural habitat. From being rescued to their time in quarantine to forming relationships with other bears to stepping out into the forest enclosure, giving Montom and Susie a new journey in life. Sun bear rehabilitation is a long process. It changes many sun bears’ lives. Thank you for supporting our work to help Montom, Susie and many orphaned sun bears. Let’s make second chances for them to be free sun bears in the wild.
Finally the day for Montom, a 3 years old male sub-adult sun bear, to be introduced with Susie, a 4 year old female adult sun bear, was on the 4th of June, 2015. Montom and Susie were rescued from pet trade. BSBCC have taken an innovative approach of integrating rescued sun bears. These interactions between bears can help them to develop and learn skills that will be needed in the wild.
These two bears got to know each other by being placed in adjacent dens. Once the gate was opened, Montom immediately played with Susie. Susie was not too friendly towards Montom at the beginning. Susie is a short tempered and sensitive female bear compared to Montom who is a happy and outgoing juvenile male bear. Montom just watched Susie in a curious way and sniffed her. Susie greeted Montom with angry growls and paced. Montom showed an interest in play and sometimes would back off when he knew Susie was angry with him.
However, after two days Susie began to grow in confidence and played with Montom. Both showing canines and claws when they played.
For the rest of their first week together, they began to understand and trust each other better, eventually giving space and sharing food together. No aggression was noted and the two bears were observed playfully tumbling around the floor of the den. They learnt the smells and behavior of the others. Montom was seen to be enthusiastic and playful.
Enrichment items such as dried leaves, green leaves, dead wood, climbing structure, and various food based enrichment was provided in the dens to keep Montom and Susie busy and to learn the survival skills. They enjoyed all of the different enrichment items given to them. Montom would grab the food first and break the enrichments!
Seeing Montom and Susie explore the exercise pen together is an absolute pleasure. The integrations are continuing well. Especially Susie who is a sensitive bear and has a tendency to pace. Through this integration, she is learning to be a “bear” for the first time in her life and all the mistreatment, trauma she underwent is in the past. Both of them are developing into lovely young sun bears. Montom shows the most dominance.
Text and Photos by Chiew Lin May
Montom, is a three years old male sun bear. The name “Montom” means black in Dusun language and his personality matches his name. He arrived at BSBCC on January 21st, 2015. He was surrendered by his owner who had been keeping Montom as a pet at Kampung Melangkap, Kota Marudu. Montom’s owner reported to the Wildlife Rescue Unit that their dog chased away his mother and abandoned Montom. He was then taken and kept as a pet for a year. Just like a human, this behavior is very unlikely as a sun bear mother is very protective of their offspring and would not leave her infant alone at such a young age. Montom has lost the important time he needs to learn from his mother so he can become an independent wild sun bear.
During the quarantine period Montom was so alert with his surroundings and he would stay high up on the enrichment platform. He also would bark when he saw our staff around. He enjoys his quiet time and does not like any disturbances. Despite his young age, Montom showed amazing courage as he overcame his fear and quickly adapted to his new environment over the last three months. Montom has a big appetite and his favorites are banana, papaya, watermelon and honey. With his nutritious diet, he is getting physically stronger.
After Montom finished his quarantine period, he was moved to a larger exercise den which is equipped with enrichment tools such as dry leaves, green leaves, and old logs to learn all the necessary survival skills such as digging, natural food selection and climbing.
Montom is a highly inquisitive young sun bear. Once he stepped into the exercise den he climbed up a climbing structure right away and was very curious about it.
Little by little he ventured around the exercise den. Enrichment is vital for sun bears in our centre. This enrichment helps to provide positive wild behaviour and avoid stress. Montom is very happy here and every day he will get involved with the various enrichment activities. He particularly likes the Aussie dog ball, where he will try to explore how to access the food and honey!
He has spent a great deal of time in the exercise den. Montom’s survival skills have been developing rapidly. Montom continues to do well and has developed new skills during his rehabilitation.
This year, BSBCC has received two orphaned sun bears. Montom is one of them. A victim of sun bear pet trade which has also caused him the loss of his mother. We will continue to help Montom develop the skills needed for his return to the wild. The next step for him is he will be introduced to Susie, a female sub-adult sun bear and will slowly join a big group of bears, then step into the forest enclosure. So stay turned!