Text by Mohammad Naqiuddin bin Alipudin
Photos by Chiew Lin May & Seng Yen Wah
Kala is a 6 year old, adult female sun bear in BSBCC. She arrived at the BSBCC in January 2015 as a cub and she was separated from her mother at an early age. She was actually being illegally traded and someone bought her with the intention of surrendering her to Sabah Wildlife Department’s Wildlife Rescue Unit. Upon arrival at the BSBCC, she showed signs of dehydration, emaciation and malnutrition; basically in a very poor condition.
However, Kala is treated full of care here and has been progressing into a strong adult sun bear. She was introduced back to her natural habitat, the forest, on June 2016.
Kala loves wandering in the forest, foraging in the soil, biting tree bark in search for foods such as invertebrates like earthworms, termites and pill millipedes. With her sharp claws and full set of canines, she has no problem to bite through the tree bark or any wooden logs. Walking around the forest alone is really her thing. She would find her favorite spot and just sit there, sunbathing under the rich sun rays before going back to foraging again, or sleep on dead logs.
She loves being in the forest, just like how humans like being at home. Most of the time, almost every day, she doesn’t go back to her den and spends the night out in the forest. As adventurous as she might be, she’s still learning several survival skills and hopefully, she will soon be completely rehabilitated and able to be released and live on her own in her natural habitat, away from humans.
In the bear house, Kala stays with Susie 2 in the same den and her neighbour, Bintang. All three of them went out to the forest together. When Bintang had a grumpy moment, she would growl at both Kala and Susie 2 after the door is opened. However, it didn’t affect their bonding at all as there is no aggression. Susie 2 sometimes growls back. As for Kala, she is one chilled bear. In their den, she will rest alone on the platform and remain unbothered.
Even during feeding time, unlike other bears who are so eager to get fed first, Kala would only come down when she really is hungry and she has no problem sharing foods with Susie 2.Kala is not really fond of new people which is really good being part of her natural instinct. When she feels threatened, she knows how to defend and fight for herself with a warning bark. She is cool around other sun bears but not around human. She is always observant. When any keeper enters her neighboring dens to clean, she lies down and watches from above, sometimes sniffing then barking but when she gets bored she falls asleep!
Kala is not only an adorable sun bear but also strong and brave. Her journey whilst at the BSBCC has been positive and she still consistently improves, mastering skills for what it takes to be a wild sun bear and keeping in touch with her natural instinct. She loves the forest, the air, the sun’s rays and playing in the greens that grow on the rich soil. Hopefully, she will soon be fulfilling all the criteria of a wild sun bear and able to be released in the future. Good days are coming Kala!
Dodop was rescued by Sabah Wildlife Department in 2nd June 2016, where she was found kept as a house pet in Singgaron villager, Ranau district. Demand from the wildlife trade leads to sun bears being illegally stolen from the wild to become pets, attractions in zoos or used in traditional Asian medicine.
Having been kept long in captivity and habituated to people, she has lost the natural instinct to survive in the wild. Fortunately, with the help and care from our team, Dodop has finally learned what it is like to be a wild sun bear. She loves hanging out on the tree! Please share her story!
Video by Chiew Lin May
“And soon there will be here - taking first steps into true FREEDOM!”
The bears have blossomed into the wild bears they were meant to be!
Here Sunbearo and Loki take you on a journey to release into their protected forest. It was encouraged to see how they take a huge step to begin their new life. Wishing them well on their journey to freedom!
Sun bears release program are very costly. Please support and help us give sun bears a second chance at a life in the wild. We are incredibly grateful for the support from our supporters, volunteers for always be there for making sun bears return to the wild.
Text & Photos by Seng Yen Wah
Today is the day! The 100th days of Kipaku in the BSBCC.
Before Kipaku sent to BSBCC, Kipaku had been kept for three months at Kampung Kipaku, In Tambunan. His owner claimed that they found him in the forest fire site. Then, they surrendered Kipaku to Sabah Wildlife Department, and he finally arrived at BSBCC on the 18th of July, 2020. On his arrival, he weighed 7.1 kg. Now, his weight is 14.8kg!
One hundred days passed! Kipaku no longer the little cubs anymore. Yet, he just eight months old cub. He grows up with his size, strength and skills! Losing his mother at the same time, he lost his chance to learn from his mother. Under the rehabilitation of BSBCC, Kipaku is taking his second chance for his life. Kipaku carries his instinct and learns to be a real bear.
Kipaku is a playful and curious bear. He is such a good explorer. He never let go anything that offered to him. The enrichments, tree branches, dead woods these all are his favourite toys to play! Using his canine, claws to bite and tear is encouraging him a natural bear behaviour.
Kipaku is a forest lover. He loves to climb. There are no limits on how high he is able to climb. While on a tree, he gets his freedom; he explores every branch,, takes a nap on a branch and even crosses to another tree. There is nothing that bothers him when he stays up in the trees. All Sun Bears are excellent climbers. They climb for foraging beehives, resting and also to avoid predators. Kipaku’s climbing skills are excellent.
Digging might be his second favourite forest activity. When Kipaku is digging deep and foraging in the woods,he is searching for yummy snacks to fill up his small belly. Besides that, the small invertebrates he finds are the vital protein source for the bears. Kipaku’s foraging and digging skills are both excellent.
During his first days, Kipaku was introduced to a female cub, Itam,with the hope they would become friends. The first meeting was unpleasant. However their, friendship and bonding are growing day by day. During the day, he does not go out to the forest. He spends his time with Itam. Now, they cannot leave each other! They play fight with each other, rolling on the den floor, playing run-and-chase. They share everything, enrichment, food. Sometimes they may be growling at each other protecting their food, but only for a short moment. The next moment, they will be sleeping or playing together again. They are a lovely pair of bears.
The progress of Kipaku during his time at the BSBCC is excellent! However, he still needs more care until he can be released in the wild. Saving animals is not an easy task, but it does make a difference to the lives of the animals. Please support us, we cannot do it without you.
Text By Dr.Yeoh Boon Nie
Photos By Seng Yen Wah
“Yay, Betung is 2.0kg today!” the joyous shout from the cub care team at the BSBCC.
Betung is a malnourished sun bear cub rescued by Sabah Wildlife Department on 21st August 2020 . Her background story was similar to many other rescued cubs at the BSBCC. They claimed she was found walking alone in the forest and then raised by a villager since April 2020.
Betung, however, is different.
Inappropriate care and chronic malnutrition resulted in possible irreversible damage to her health. Betung was terribly stunted and estimated as being 6 months old. A healthy sun bear cub at this age can easily achieve 10kg. Unbelievably,when Betung arrived at the BSBCC on 26th August 2020 she was a mere 1.4kg.
At day 33 in BSBCC, Betung weighed 2.0kg. A 600g weight gain may seem insignificant to most cubs. But for Betung, this gain indicates a promising health healing process. The cub care team cheered at this moment.
Raising her is by far the most challenging task in BSBCC. Not just because she is tiny but also her health status is severely compromised. Her blood test showed reduced red blood cells, white blood cells and total protein, which are consistent with malnourishment. Her immune system is also severely impaired. She is weak,easily succumbs to infection and is bald due to mites and fungal skin infection. In addition it was discovered she suffered from hypocalcemia,shown from the thin bone cortices in the radiography result. This finding also implied that a minor traumatic impact such as a fall, can break a bone. Betung is very delicate and fragile.
Another challenge we faced in raising Betung was she did not respond well to the milk substitute we have used in the past 8 years. Her gastrointestinal absoption disorder was worrying us. Her appetite and weight gain was inconsistent at the beginning. We had to source special milk formula for Betung. Fortunately with the introduction of a new formula, she appetite has greatly improved the team is relieved that her weight is now steadily increasing day by day. She has even started to pick up solid food and has transformed into a bright and playful sun bear.
Betung’s case emphasises the importance of nutrition in one’s growth.
We pray both that her stunt growth and impaired health condition are reversible and that she will grow into a normal adult sized sun bear.
Time will prove it. A 25kg grown up Betung will be a beautiful sun bear.
P/s: Please adopt Betung to make a difference.
Text & Photos by Seng Yen Wah
There are two bear stories that began in the year of 2016 at BSBCC.
The story began at a place named Nabawan, an area in the southern part of Sabah. One day in 2016, a villager saw a dog in her orchard. When she tried to look closer, she noticed the dog has round ears and sharp claws. She then realized the dog was actually a sun bear! The sun bear had been kept as a pet ever since. On the 19th of August 2016, the Sabah Wildlife Department (SWD) rescued him and sent him to Lok Kawi Zoo. The bear came to BSBCC when he was five months old and weighed 8.6kg on the 10th of October 2016. When he was just brought here, his four baby teeth were supposed to be more curved and sharper but were found being reduced to a squarish and smoothen condition which affected his teething structure and arrangement. Despite this condition, he has healthily grown into a four-year-old sub adult male bear and is named Noah.
Another story happened in Kota Marudu, an area in the north of Sabah. This story belongs a six years old adult male bear named Nano. Back in 2016, Nano was kept in a small chicken mesh cage. A lady saw him and wanted to end his unfortunate life. She knew the bear was going to suffer in that small cage and she then decided to purchase Nano for a price of RM1,500 to save his life. After that, she surrendered Nano to the SWD and that sent him to BSBCC on the 20th of November 2016. When he first arrived at BSBCC, he just weighed 9.7kg at the age of two years old.
Noah and Nano were each other’s first bear friend! They always stay together. They look different and have quite different personalities. For instance, Noah is a happy bear and an explorer. He seems like having nothing to worry about in his life and is always curious about everything! Noah has a brighter colour snout and a longer body shape. On the contrary, Nano is shy. He is very alert to the surroundings and gets stressed easily. Nano has a shinier coat and a smaller body size. Noah’s friendly efforts had changed Nano’s life day by day. Nano has changed from being aggressive and inactive to peaceful and active. Due to their friendship and interactions, Nano has become braver and brighter!
After a year of rehabilitation, Noah and Nano explored the forest for the very first time in 2017. Noah was excited about the adventure outside. He was confident and enjoyed freedom. However, Nano showed more distress to explore a new environment. Nano timidly took his time to go out, but Noah never gave up on him. After a few months, Nano finally put his trauma behind him and enjoyed the forest activities with Noah. Even though they are “beary” good friends, they still fight sometimes. However, if Nano is in trouble, Noah will run towards Nano and get him out of the trouble. No bears in BSBCC can bully Nano! Nano feels more secure whenever Noah is around. They just can’t leave each other alone!
Noah and Nano really enjoy their daily forest activities such as digging, foraging, and climbing. Noah is like Nano’s big brother. Noah starts the adventure of the day and Nano is happy to be his follower. They both are foodies. Before and during the food giving, Nano always guards food and Noah will respond as if they are communicating in Bear Language. It is a joy to see them always together like a Best Bear Friends! Hope they gain more courage and sharpen their forest survival skills to ready themselves for their release together in the wild one day!
Text & Photos by Seng Yen Wah
Let’s meet our two rescued bear cubs, Kipaku and Itam.
Kipaku, is a five months old male bear cub. He was found in a forest fire site. After that, he was being kept as a house pet in Kampung Kipaku at Tambunan. He came to the BSBCC on the 18th of July, 2020. Kipaku is a bright and active bear. However,due to his history as a house pet, he is used to the presence of humans. He feels stressed and bawls when he sees there are no people around him.
On the other hand, Itam, is a seven months old female bear cub. She was found at Kampung Maimatom, Kemabong and kept in Kampung Kuala Sabinait, Pagalungan at Nabawan. When she was found, she had wounds from dog bites on her body. She came to the BSBCC on the 27th of July. Itam is an alert and shy bear. Her eyes were always focused on the surroundings.
Kipaku and Itam may come to BSBCC by a different story, but what they have in common is they both are alone now. To provide a better life for these little two cubs, giving them a new friend can encourage their social behaviour and helps them learn from each other. The best enrichment of a bear always is another bear!
This is how their friendship started.
On the 30th of Jul, 2020, was the first day Kipaku and Itam met. However, it is was not pleasant . Kipaku first gives a warning bark to Itam. Kipaku stayed in the hanging platform while Itam stayed in the basket. They both kept huffing and barking. There was not much progress during the first three days of their integration. This is due to neither of them wanting to get close to the other and they were still huffing, growling and barking.
Slowly, Itam took the first move to approach Kipaku. However, Kipaku always warns her to stay away. Itam still tries hard every time. She has no fear of Kipaku’s warning. Due to Itam’s fearless efforts and countless tries, they are getting closer day by day.
Finally after a week,we saw them begin their friendship! Now, Itam always follows behind Kipaku. They are always biting, pawing and wrestling. Kipaku still likes to paw Itam hard. However, Itam is always tolerant with Kipaku. They share food and enrichment and also sleep together. It is so lovely to see their precious friendship. We are hoping that they can grow and learn together and believe that one day they will return to the wild together.
Text by Dr. Yeoh Boon Nie
Photos by Seng Yen Wah & Chiew Lin May
A sunny day, we were excited to receive the very first satellite signal emitted from Montom’s GPS collar, indicating the released bear was exploring the new home, and passing by the adjacent forest reserve. Montom is an adult male bear that was returned to wild on 10th July. Our heart sank immediately after knowing a sun bear cub was rescued by Sabah Wildlife Department and on the way to BSBCC.
Early morning on 18th July, an estimate 4 month old sun bear cub arrived in BSBCC. He came from Kampung Kipaku, Tambunan. So we named him Kipaku, straight forward, huh. While the cub care team still observing and learning Kipaku’s behavior, we received another bad news that one more rescued bear cub was arranged to BSBCC. On the late night in 27th July, Itam, an approximate 7 month old female cub arrived in the center.
BSBCC is established with the primary mission to rehabilitate the rescued sun bear. We are saddened by the fact that sun bears are still rampantly poached. And the cub, their cuteness is a curse, sought-after as pet. The morale in our team was low at that very moment.
Both Kipaku and Itam shared the similar background, but the two have distinctive different personality in insecurity. They both were kept as household pet after being found alone in the forest. What happened to their mother? Mama bear will not abandoned her cub unless she was threatened or died.
Kipaku is a sweet chubby bear that attached to human. He cry when no keeper around to keep him accompany. He was “trained” to eat fried fish with rice, and hence he dislike fruits and vegetables.
Itam, on the other hand, is a fearful bear that constantly wary of surrounding. Any noises will startle her. She barked and charged at keepers every morning. She would tip toe walking to explore the cage. She relaxed when no human around.
Dear Kipaku and Itam, we feel so sorry that you both loss your mother and endure terrifying event at your infant age. We will take care of you now. Your wild instinct and lessons taught by your mother will guide you through this rehabilitation journey. Five years later, hopefully, we will return you home, like Montom!
We have not giving up.
Text & Photos by Seng Yen Wah
Itam,is a lovely bear with a slightly round body. She is seven months old, the youngest female bear in BSBCC.
Itam was originally from Kg Maimatom, Kemabong. But, she was found at Kg. Kuala Sabinait, Pagalungan, Nabawan. The owner of an orchard heard his dogs were barking. When he went to have a look he found Itam alone. At that time, Itam appeared weak and had some dog bite wounds. The owner was kept her for 21 days. After that, he decided to surrender Itam to Sabah Wildlife Department when she was being kept at the Lok Kawi Wildlife Park. On the 27th of July 2020, Itam came to BSBCC.
On her arrival, her weight was 11 kg. She has a shiny coat and a unique chest mark. Unfortunately, we found,whilst conducting her general body checkup,that she has a severe dental problem. We believed that it may be caused by her stress-related behaviour - cage biting. Itam is not picky on food. She will try every new food that is offered to her. Her top three favourite foods are milk, egg, and fruits. Now, she weighs 12.35kg.
Most of the time, Itam is shy. She spends more time resting. The basket is one of her favourite places to hide. She is always seen peeking from the basket. Other than that, she enjoys staying on the hammock and resting with the belly up. If she wants to have a better view, she prefers to stay at the hanging platform. When she is resting, nothing bothers her. She chills and relaxes!
However, Itam is very alert to the environment. She always keeps her eyes wide open to observe her surroundings. Her moves are always careful and quiet. When you look into her eyes, they look alert with fear. A story lies in her eyes. She always stays in a corner or stays up high. Once she feels threatened, she charges and gives a warning bark. Then, she hides. We do not know what happened to her before. But, we believe that she has suffered a lot and this has caused her to be traumatized.
Sun bears are excellent climbers. However, Itam is clumsy in climbing. Instead of using her claw, she is using her paw and teeth to support during climbing. In the wild, cubs will be attached to their mother until two to three years old and,during this period,the cubs will learn from their mothers. However, Itam is now alone. Itam always looks up and looks as though she has many thoughts in her head. Maybe she is missing her mother and her natural home.
We can help her now by encouraging her more natural behaviour. We provide different types of enrichment for her so, she will be able to learn to be a real bear.
In BSBCC, She will receive intensive care. It will take her time and patience to forget her trauma. We are believe that she will grow into a confident young sun bear ready for her second chance of life at the BSBCC.
Video by Chiew Lin May
Amaco was found by a plantation worker in the middle of the forest when he was still a cub. He was kept as a pet and fed rice and condensed milk in the last 18 years. An inappropriate diet in the pet trade can lead to long term dental damage. He stressed upon arrival.
Amaco has been on a long road to recovery since he was rescued. He loves engages with enrichments. He likes to play fight with his best friends – Chin and Panda. Please share his story!