Written by Pradeep Aggi Gunasegaran
Photos by Chiew Lin May & Seng Yen Wah
Ronnie or also known as Ronnie Boy is one of the forty-three residents Bornean Sun Bears at the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre (BSBCC). On the eventful night of 10th of March 2014, Ronnie Boy was among the five sun bears that were involved with the transfer activity from Lok Kawi Wildlife Park to BSBCC. While the history of Ronnie Boy ending up with human beings is unknown, he spent approximately eight years of his life at a resort in Tawau with Diana, another rescued sun bear at BSBCC. The both of them spent the early part of their lives in a small concrete floored cage as they were exhibited to the resort’s visitors. The owner of the resort then decided to hand over both Ronnie Boy and Diana to Sabah Wildlife Department in July 2013 and they were housed in Lok Kawi Wildlife Park for slightly more than seven months before the transfer activity was carried out.
Ronnie Boy was assumed to be eight years of age and he also appeared to be a physically healthy and muscular adult male Bornean Sun Bear. However, he was still subjected to a health check upon his arrival at BSBCC and he was diagnosed with a heart condition by the veterinarian. Due to that, extra care is given to ensure that Ronnie Boy gets the best diet possible under BSBCC’s care. He went from just merely eating fruits and rice to being fed with a variety of food from fruits, vegetable, egg, and many more to keep him healthy. Today, Ronnie Boy is 15 years of age, still healthy, muscular and looking charming with his pair of blue eyes.
Throughout the years of being under the care of BSBCC, Ronnie Boy has always been a calm adult male bear. Sun bears are solitary individuals in nature but he does not seem to be unfazed by the sight of other male bears nearby. He often spends his time relaxing in his den by sitting on the edge of the basket provided, clinging on to the bars with his forelimbs while resting his head against one of his forelimbs. Besides the basket, Ronnie Boy is also hooked on hammocks. He would lie down in his beloved hammock with his head resting on the edge. In that position, he would just observe keepers and volunteers who happen to walk pass by his den. While he is always in state of tranquility, he gets excited when environmental enrichment is provided to him. He does not get frustrated if the environmental enrichment is complex instead he would spends hours interacting with it.
Although Ronnie Boy is always calm in the bear house, he does have an issue that troubles him. For years, the bear care team has been trying to release Ronnie Boy into the forest but it has not been fruitful. Ronnie Boy is often afraid to take the steps out of the guillotine door into the forest enclosures. He is fearful of the outside world probably due to the condition he has been living in since young where he has only grown up to know concrete flooring and metal bars as his safe haven. We may be heading into the blue but for as long that Ronnie Boy is under the care of BSBCC, efforts will carried out for him to some day have his paws feeling the earth and grass while his body is soaked under the sunshine and rain. We hope that some day, Ronnie Boy will experience the world like any other wild Bornean Sun Bear!
Text & Photos by Seng Yen Wah
It’s a BIG day! Luna, our captive born sun bear cub is six months old today!
Luna was born on the 20th of May, 2021. She is the daughter of Bintang (Rescued Bear 39). Bintang took good care of Luna since she was born. However, on her eighth day, the keepers noticed Luna was not as active as before. She had a low body temperature and severe injuries to her ears and skin infections. Due to Luna's poor health, we made the difficult decision to separate Luna from her mother. At that time, she only weighed 353gms and was in need of urgent medical attention. Luna survived many critical moments when she was placed in the oxygen chamber several times. It was not easy for Luna's tiny body to get through all of this. She did well. After one month of treatment, her wounds healed. Unfortunately, she lost both of her external ears.
Luna is unique and different from other sun bears as she grows in a short, sleek, grey coat. But this doesn’t affect her prettiness. As Luna grows, her fur gets darker.
It is awesome to watch Luna growing up by hand-raising her from her day nine. Bringing Luna to the forest walk is a routine that allows her to learn forest skills. Every day, Luna walks into the forest happily, hops around, unable to conceal her excitement. It seems that she cannot wait for her daily forest adventure. From the beginning, Luna follows behind, and now, she will lead you to the path she wants to explore. She likes to stop and explore along the way! Luna has soil eating behaviour. She will dig into the soil and taste it. Luna loves to explore the forest by digging into the soil, hugging the trees, sniffing the forest floor, foraging for ants and letting the breeze embrace her.
To encourage Luna to climb, the her keeper will climb trees with her. Slowly, she shows her skills as she grips the trees with her sharp claws, and now she can climb up a tree to more than seven meters high! In the forest, Luna would pick her favourite trees to explore. She climbs up the trees to the canopy using liana, by digging and tearing them. Sometimes she climbs and crosses to another tree too! But Luna seldom spends time resting in the trees.
At the end of the forest walk, the keepers will take her to the stream. At first, Luna was a little uncertain and nervous as she crossed the stream. She follows the stream at the side, and then she goes slowly further into the stream with her keeper. If Luna thinks the water is too deep for her, she will step back. She enjoys the water, but she always checks where is her keeper first so she can go further! Sometimes she does not want to play in the water and stays at the side of the stream and digs the soil or climbs up a tree.
Luna is a gentle yet playful bear cub. Her keeper provides her with different types of enrichment in her den to encourage her natural bear behaviour and fill her day. Luna is a contented bear cub. She loves to try everything new! However, when she sees the new enrichment for the first time, she will remain alert, and she will paw it to make sure the enrichment is fine and then explore it. Luna knows how to make good use of her time. A piece of deadwood can get her through a day! Luna likes to play with towels, and she will bring the towel to where she wants to sleep. When Luna is scared by a noise, she will hide in the basket or stay behind, but she will look around and check the surroundings.
Time passed, Luna is six months old today. Luna is growing and learning the skills in the forest. She still has a long way to go, but it’s magical experience to see her being surprised and delighted to transform and behave as a wild sun bear. If you want to share your love for Luna, you can adopt her in our share bear adoption through our website, https://www.bsbcc.org.my/share-bear-adoption-thanksgiving-and-christmas-2021.html. You can help make a better future for Luna’s life!
Text by Pradeep Aggi Gunasegaran
Photos by Chiew Lin May & Seng Yen Wah
Rescued Bear Number 56 which goes by the name Soo maybe be well known among the loyal supporters of the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre (BSBCC) but for those of you who are new to our cause, here is a little flashback to the beginning of Soo’s life. The details that were provided to us spoke briefly about Soo being traded in a market at Sook, Keningau in the year of 2015. She was purchased by her owner for RM 350 and then lived as pet for two years in the interior division of Sabah. In 2017, Sabah Wildlife Department rescued Soo and handed her over to BSBCC when she was already at the age of three years old. There is no doubt that Soo’s mother would have been killed for her to be sold in a market. A mother bear would always try her best to protect her cub just as like it was potrait in a recent trending news (June 2021) which mentioned that a young American woman pushes off a brown bear to save her dogs. If you would have seen the entire CCTV footage, you would notice that the brown bear had two cubs and the mother bear became defensive when the dogs started barking frantically.
Like any other sun bears that end in BSBCC, Soo also underwent a health check upon arrival. However, unlike many sun bears which arrive in poor health conditions, Soo’s blood work indicated that she was healthy. While her general health was in order, Soo was not adjusting well to the surrounding. She was always in heightened alert state as keeper were around in the day. She would only eat her food and play with environmental enrichment after the keepers leave at the end of the day. The changes to her behaviour were subtle as she would aggressively start pacing if there is the slightest form of stressor such a single loud noise. As her behaviour slowly improved, it was decided that Soo’s rehabilitation process would take a positive turn by integrating her with Sika, Kina, BJ; three young sun bears and Diana; our adult female sun bear. At the beginning of the integration, Soo was apprehensive and confused at time when it came to interacting with the other bears. Although, it was difficult for her in the beginning, she eventually got along with all the other sun bears and she was able to eat, play and sleep together with them. Soo remained vigilant to the presence of keepers but having other sun bears around her did allow her to be more relaxed in comparison to her early life as a solitary bear since arriving at BSBCC.
After staying at BSBCC’s quarantine section for few years, Soo was transferred to bear house with her friends Sika, Kina and BJ in 2020. It was another stressful yet a necessary process that had to be endured by Soo in her rehabilitation program. This time around, there were more sun bears around where she could either see them or catch their smell and of course, there were also more keepers and volunteers around as well. Soo spent her first week clinging to the top of the den, refusing to shift dens for cleaning to be done or even coming down to take her food as long as she knew that keepers were still in the bear house even if they were not standing in front of her. Once she settled down in bear house, the next step in her rehabilitation process was undergoing fence training. Surprisingly, Soo was first to pass fence training among her friend. As soon as Sika, Kina and BJ passed their fence training, all of them were released into Pen G, a small forest enclosure. This time around the transition from a small enclosed space; which was very familiar to her to a large open space was tremendously difficult for Soo.
After a few of month, Soo did not touch the soil in Pen G and it was decided that her entire group would be shifted to Pen K as an effort to get Soo living her life as a wild sun bear. When Soo, Sika, Kina, and BJ were released into Pen K, the initial results were similar as Soo refused to step down to venture into the forest while the others were quick the enjoy the much bigger forest enclosure. It also took Soo few month before she gathered the courage to step on the concrete flooring of Pen K, a flooring that is much familiar to a sun bear like Soo. After a combine of seven months, the bear care unit spotted Soo venturing into the forest enclosure. Although she was brave enough to indulge herself with nature, by afternoon, Soo would be back to bear house, on the all too familiar concrete flooring, waiting for the keepers to bring her back into the bear house later in the evening. In March 2021, Soo and her friends were once again shifted to Pen G as per the rotational practice under BSBCC. Unfortunately, the cycle repeats itself for Soo as she has yet to set her paw onto the ground of Pen G at this point of writing.
The rehabilitation process undergone by Soo with BSBCC has been a long and slow process. The reaction that Soo has been giving throughout the process clearly indicates that she is a traumatised Bornean Sun Bear. The actions of us, the human-beings have robbed her the essence of living her life as a sun bear; especially when she was a mere cub which could have lived peacefully with her mother for at least two years, learning the way of a sun bear.
Sun bears are a totally protected species, protected by the law in Sabah. It is illegal to hunt, to be kept as a possession or to be involved in any activity that could cause harm to a sun bear. Sun bear cubs are cute but it is also a reason for the depleting population of sun bears in the wild and the growing cubs end up having a traumatising lives just like Soo’s. Please say no to illegal wildlife trade and if you happen to see any sun bears being sold, you can alert the Sabah Wildlife Department or BSBCC.
As for Soo, BSBCC would continuously put in the effort to aid her with the rehabilitation program. We would also like to convey our appreciation to Perbadanan Insurans Deposit Malaysia (PIDM) who is adopting Soo under the My Bear Adoption Programme which further aids in our cause to give a second chance to the rescued Bornean Sun Bears in Sabah.
Text by Poon Siau Hui
Photos by Chiew Lin May & Seng Yen Wah
BJ, the energetic five year old male bear was staying in Bear House 2. He was the 61st Bear rescued by the BSBCC. When he gets his favorite foods, he will guard his food by barking loudly.
When he was just five months old, he was purchased in Sonsogon Village, Pitas for RM 300 and then kept as a house pet. He arrived at the BSBCC on November 22nd 2018 when he was two years old. As his previous owner had fed him with rice, meat, honey, and fruits, he weighed 33.8kg.
As BJ is one of the illegal trade victims of a young age, we believe that his mother was either poached or killed. Normally in the wild, the sun bear cub will be cared for by their mother until 2 to 3 years of age.
When entering his new environment and surroundings, BJ takes time to adapt in the den. But as soon as he settled down and was no longer traumatized, he was given a chance to integrate with a larger social group of female bears – Kina, Sika, Soo, and Diana. By integrating with others bears, he can learn how to be a REAL bear and adjust his life living with bears not humans.
To proceed with the rehabilitation process, BJ, Soo, Kina, and Sika were moved to Bear House 2 and released into Pen G. But before BJ is released into the forest enclosure Pen G, he needs to go through fence training. At first BJ was afraid to go outside as this is another new environment for him. But after he tried to be brave and step out into the forest, he falls in love with it. He loves the texture of the ground which is covered with soil not concrete, the place where he belongs.
BJ really learnt a lot on how to be a real sun bear again,bonding with his friends. Hopefully one day he will fulfill all the criterias which a wild sun bear should have and have a chance to feel the freedom in the rainforest.
Text by Poon Siau Hui
Photos by Mizuno Merek Men, Mohd Salffazryean Suban Abdullah & Seng Yen Wah
Greetings to everyone, my name is Poon Siau Hui or most of the time they call me Ashley and I am from Sandakan. Straight after my internship, I am entering my final year studying Animal Resource Science and Management better known as Zoology at University Malaysia Sarawak. My application for an intern placement at the BSBCC was in my plan during my first year of study. I am glad that I did my internship during the Covid-19 pandemic period.
I was assigned to a buddy to guide me throughout my 10 weeks internship, Julamih, a junior bear keeper. Although he was still quite new at the BSBCC, he taught me as much as he knew. Both of us learnt from each other. But during the last few weeks of my placement, he was transferred to Quarantine,which I could not join. So, for this period I was guided by different keepers daily.
As the centre is still not open to the public, most of my work is animal husbandry. The bear care unit members are split into different groups to complete morning routine. These are cleaning the dens in Bear House 1, Bear House 2 and Quarantine, working in the Kitchen, Fence Check, Medic, Faecal Check and feeding. A weekly roster was prepared which rotated into these different departments. Bear in mind, volunteering at the BSBCC requires physical preparation. All jobs require a high amount of energy such as cleaning the dens, hiking during fence checking, carrying bowls which contain at least 2kg of fruits to feed in the outside enclosures. I am getting stronger day by day.
.There are many unforgettable moments that I went through during these days. Making various types of enrichment for all the bears (sambil membawang HAHAHA), going out to collect banana leaves, going into forest to search for termite’s nests, observing Romolina, Logan and Joe for their integration with others adult bears, doing some maintenance in the bear house,I had the opportunity to learn on how to use water jet and so on.
From only knowing Amaco at first, now I can recognize all the bears. I feel a little proud of myself. Whenever I was free, I went to observe the bears while they were eating, enjoying enrichment that I made and smiling towards them as I felt so grateful that I had a chance to observe them closely. I was able to join Lingam, a male sun bears’ health check too! That was an exciting yet nervous moment!
At last, I would like to give a huge thank you and big bear hug to all the bear care unit members: Yen Wah, Julamih, Mizuno, Dr. Boon, Roger, Adneen, Danny, Pradeep, and David. Thank you for welcoming me during my first day. I did not feel awkward but filled with warmth! Thank you for all the jokes that made my day full of laughter and fun. Thank you for sharing all your experience in this field and teaching me to do something new which I have never done before. Roger and Adneen, who never underestimated me and were willing to help me as their temporary buddy. Not to forget our papa Bear, Dr. Wong who advised me on my future and shared his precious pathway working with sun bears from zero to now. I truly appreciate all the knowledge and skills that I gained throughout these 10 weeks. I’m going to miss you all and the bears, looking forward to my next visit to the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre
Text & Photos by Seng Yen Wah
"We found a baby bear in Bintang’s den!" – Our resident vet, Dr Boon, was telling us from her walkie talkie.
It was an ordinary day. On 20 May 2021, in the morning, keepers, as usual, started their routine in the bear house. The bear keeper, Marshah, was doing the faecal check. Suddenly, he heard a soft crying sound from the bear den. Then, he checked every den and found a tiny black thing in Bintang's den. Then he asked David, a senior bear keeper, to take a look. As soon as David confirmed it was a bear cub, he informed Dr Boon immediately. Dr Boon came quickly to inspect the bear cub and informed everyone in BSBCC.
After that, the day had become an extraordinary day for the BSBCC.
In these 100 days, Little Luna has been through a lot. Let pictures show how the growing process has been for Luna in these 100 days!
Bintang did a good job being a mother for the first time. She took good care of Luna.
She spends every second around her cub fulfilling her all needs. When Luna is crying, she returns to Luna and cuddles her to comfort her no matter where she is. Bintang loves to interact with her cub and keeps watching all her activities even when she feels tired.
She is always alert to her surroundings to ensure Luna is safe. The mother's love is sweet and warm!
In the morning, Bintang was nibbling on her cub more frequently. Luna was less active. We decided to check on Luna and found that she was weak.Her body temperature was low, multiple dry wounds on her body and necrotic skin on her ears. After checking her condition, it is found that Luna’s injuries may have been caused by Bintang's over-grooming.
After that, we made a difficult decision to separate Luna from Bintang. The decision was tough for us as there was no doubt in Bintang’s mothering abilities. However, Luna was in poor health. Our vet and keeper quickly took her to the clinic and treated her immediately. Since then the keepers cared for her around the clock 24/7.
Luna’s health condition was unstable. Fortunately, she survived many critical moments, such as maintaining her in the oxygen chamber several times.
Slowly, her health improved.
Luna couldn't wait to see the world. It was so exciting, her eyes opened!
Luna gets ready to crawl! She can lift her head to look around. Then Luna starts doing mini push-ups, lifting or supporting herself up on her limbs. She learns to lift herself up on all her limbs. And she begins to rock forward and backwards. She surprised us with her learning ability. Soon, she was crawling around.
Luna is seeing the sun for the first time. It is so great! The first time of going outdoors, she was feeling anxious. She stays with the keeper who slowly introduces her to every little thing around her. Soon, she looks around and starts to fall in love with the sun, leaves and nature. She might think this world is so cool!
Luna is teething!
Meet the forest!
Everything in the forest is new to her! She never spends enough time exploring around, playing with leaves and digging in the soil. It is wonderful to see her running and hopping in a happy rhythm.
Walks in the forest allow Luna to explore the forest from an early age and learn the forest skills needed to survive in the wild, such as climbing, foraging, digging, etc.
Luna had a first taste of solid food,a banana! After that, she tried watermelon, snake fruit, pineapple, sweet potato and carrot.Her favourite is still the banana!
Hold on to each tiny moment. Luna is growing too fast! She is 100 days old today! There is still a long journey for Luna. With love and patience,we hope Luna grows up healthy and happy. Happy 100 days, Luna!
Sun bears are the smallest bear species in the world. Their cubs are considered incredibly cute.
Most sun bears in BSBCC are ex-pets. Before coming to the BSBCC, they were chained or kept in small cages with inadequate care. These bears were rescued and underwent a rehabilitation process at BSBCC to regain their forest skills. Our ultimate goal is to release them back into the wild where they truly belong.
Say NO to the pet trade. The sun bears do not belong in cages. They should never be your pets!
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!
Text by Mohammad Naqiuddin bin Alipudin
Photos by Adrian Damsha Sufri & Seng Yen Wah
Hello everyone! My name is Mohammad Naqiuddin Ali and people call me Nick. I am 20 years old and for the past 2 months, I have been doing my internship here in the BSBCC.
I would say I am very lucky to be given the opportunity to be doing my internship here.
Initially I was so nervous as I have zero experience in working together with so many people, let alone working with sun bears. I’ve never imagined myself assisting in sun bear’s rehabilitation and to look at them really close and getting to know them more. I came here with a lot of expectations and doubts but, as each day went by, I was always showered with words of encouragement by all the staff.
During my time as an intern, I learnt so many things but the greatest lesson I’ve learned is empathy. Hearing how each and every sun bear has it’s own story with humans, some are so traumatised they have permanent complications and develop stereotype behavior which is just so sad. These sun bears were kept illegally as a pet, locked in the smallest cage, fed with improper diet, so when they came to BSBCC they had medical issues like malnutrition and dental problems. These stories made me feel more than just motivated into lending a hand here, as hard as I could, to provide these poor sun bears a better environment for a better life.
Things that I always look forward to everyday would be feeding the bears and making their enrichments. When I first assisted during feeding time, I could see how some of the sun bears are picky over their food and also not really open for sharing. It was funny and cute and I realized how despite having a very frightening bark, long claws, sharp canines, sun bears also have their own adorable side. But, as cute as they can be, they are definitely not a pet and their real home is out there, in the forest, not in our concrete building.
As for their enrichments, I think the sun bears aren’t the only one excited for it because I did too! I’ve always looked forward to enrichment activities every day and I love every second of being together with the staff, making enrichments, getting to know each other and just having fun. I made a lot of enrichments for these sun bears such as the egg tray burger, ginger leaves, stick paradox, nest ball, paper roll and more. I love seeing how these sun bears are so into it when they’re given the enrichments. It is just so amazing seeing these sun bears climbing up the dens to grab those food enrichments or when some of them would play with coconuts or the Aussie dog balls.
I am proud of the structural enrichments that I made; Boat Hammock and Confetti Bomb. I made the Boat Hammock for Simone and the making of it was mostly helped by Roger, Adneen and Marshah. I named it as ‘The Black Pearl’ and I couldn’t have done it alone without their help. Just happy to see Simone climbing up to her boat, being a sailor ready to sail. Although, it was no surprise that The Black Pearl was ‘wrecked’ by Sigalung, Simone’s neighbor, where he bit the rope attached to the hammock just after 3 days of installation. We then moved the hammock to another den where Wawa is staying. She seems to like it too! Every morning when I go to the bear house, I always see her chilling on the boat, sleeping. She even took her food up there.
I made Confetti Bomb for Amaco as I was thinking that he may be feeling bored in his den because he doesn’t want to go out to the forest enclosure. Confetti Bomb is made of a hanging gunny sack filled with dried leaves, honey, dog biscuits and banana. Amaco has to tear the gunny sack to get all these foods, and I think this enrichment is important to him as it encourages exploratory, sensory and foraging behavior. I feel satisfied seeing him eating all of the stuff after his hard work.
At first, it was a bit difficult for me to remember and differentiate every sun bear but as the days went by, I realized that all of them have their own unique chest mark and face shape and it is easier to tell them apart. Witnessing all this made me fall in love with sun bears even more because just like every other animal, they have different behavior, different preferences and each and every one of them is cute in their own way. If I could at least talk to them and they could understand me, I’d tell them to always live well, be strong and I am gonna miss them! I am gonna miss every second of feeding, cleaning the dens, watching their behavior and their cute belly when they lay down.
Lastly, I wanna give a big bunch of thanks and gratitude towards my buddy Roger, who has always been so understanding and considerate in my limitation of doing tough work, my supervisor, Yen Wah who guided me on my first day and made me feel welcome, and not to forget David, the experienced keeper who would always tell me stories of each and every sun bear, Adneen and Marshah; who never fail to make funny remarks that lightens up our mood, Mizuno; who greeted me on my first day and welcomed me, Pradeep; who educated me on so many things and introduced me to all of the sun bears, Julamih, Adrian, Dr. Boon and many others. Personally, I found that I was being so awkward on my early days but these people were very welcoming and provided so much comfort and I couldn’t ask for a healthier working environment.
These amazing people have been guiding me since day 1 and not a single day goes by without new knowledge, fun activities, laughs, sweats and most important, experiences. They are the best. This whole adventure has been nothing but inspiring for me to always try something new, even if it’s a thing that I’ve never done before. I came here with zero knowledge and left with a luggage full of memories. I hope more people would come to volunteer in the future to actually know how it feels to be helping these cute Bornean sun bears. Oh, and I lost a few kg off my weight too, so thanks BSBCC!
Text by Adrian Damsha Sufri & Danny Daniellson Peter & Pradeep A/L Gunasegaran
Photos by Adrian Damsha Sufri, Danny Daniellson Peter & Seng Yen Wah
What is your first reaction when you know Bintang gave birth to a cub? What is the story of that day?
Danny: Saya danny, saya adalah salah satu bear keeper di BSBCC. Pada hari pertama hari kelahiran anak beruang tersebut disedari oleh marshah (Bear Keeper). Anak beruang mengeluarkan satu teriakkan kecil yang membuatkan marshah hairan dengan bunyi tersebut. Apabila Marshah mendekati kadang yang ada bunyi teriakkan kecil itu semakin kuat dan jelas lalu marshah mengambil lampu suluhnya dan menyulukan cahaya lampu suluh itu kearah Bintang dan menyedari ada benda yang bergerak dibahagian tepi kaki Bintang.
Danny: I am Danny, one of the bear keepers at BSBCC. On the first day, Marshah (Bear Keeper) was first to spot the cub. The bear cub made a small cry and alerted Marshah. When Marshah approached the den, the cry became louder and clearer, so Marshah flashed at Bintang using a torchlight and he discovered something that was moving near Bintang's feet.
Danny: Apabila marshah memanggil senior keeper, David untuk kepastian. David mengenal pasti itu adalah anak beruang. Lalu mereka melaporkan tentang anak beruang tersebut kepada DR Boon. Tidak lama kemudian, DR Boon turun dan memeriksa anak beruang tersebut lalu memberitahu perkara tersebut kepada Wawa (officer) dan saya. Kemudian Wawa bersama dengan saya pergi ke bear house untuk memeriksa keadaan anak beruang dan Bintang.
Satu keeper yang memerhati dan mencatat aktiviti anak beruang dan Bintang. Pada masa itu semua staff diarahkan oleh Dr Boon agar tidak membuat bunyi bising atau apa-apa perkara yang boleh membuat Bintang stress kerana itu akan membuat Bintang melakukan perkara yang buat anak beruang cedera.
Danny: After that, Marshah called the senior keeper, David to identify whether there was the cub. As soon as David confirmed that it was a bear cub, they reported to Dr Boon about the cub. Dr Boon came soon after to inspect the bear cub and informed Wawa (Bear Care Officer) and me about it. Then, Wawa and I went to the bear house to check the bear cub and Bintang.
When we reached at bear house, there was a keeper observing and recording the activities of the cub and Bintang. At that moment, Dr Boon instructed everyone to not make noises or do anything that might make Bintang feel stressed because she might hurt the cub.
What happened to the cub that she had to be separated from the mother?
Danny: Bintang hanya dapat bersama dengan anaknya dalam masa 9 hari sahaja. Ini disebabkan oleh kesihatan anak beruang tersebut yang lemah, bahagian belakangnya terdapat kesan luka dan kedua cuping telinganya telah hilang. Dia dipisahkan dari ibunya disebabkan kondisi kesihatannya yang tidak baik.
Kemudian Dr Boon membawa dia ke klinik dan anak beruang tersebut diberikan rawatan. Anak beruang itu dijaga dalam tempoh 24 jam dan diberikan pemerhatian yang sangat teliti kerana keadaannya yang sangat lemah pada waktu itu. Apabila beberapa hari berlalu, kesihatan anak beruang tersebut semakin pulih dan juga menunjukkan pembesaran yang baik.
Danny: Bintang only stayed with her cubs for nine days. Because the cub was in poor health condition, she had wounds on her back, and both outer ears were missing. Due to her poor health condition, she has since been separated from her mother.
After that, Dr Boon took her to the clinic for treatment. Since the cub was weak, the cub has to be taken care for 24 hours and given very close observation. A few days later, the cub’s health improved and growing well.
How do you feel about taking care of a newborn cub?
Adrian: Masa hari pertama saya jaga baby, saya risau dan agak takut sikit sebab baby itu kecil dan nampak lembut. Kali pertama bagi susu kepada baby saya risau, kalausaya tercederakan baby sebab terlalu kuat pegang itu baby. Apa yang akan di buat untuk baby setiap hari ialah, pagi lebih kurang jam 8 akan timbang baby dulu supaya dapat tahu berapa jumlah susu untuk hari tersebut. Selepas bagi susu, akan bagi berak dan kencing dngan cara guna tissue atau gauze yang basah untuk baby bagi respond berak dan kencing. Lepas semua tu, akan check suhu takut suhu badan baby. Suhu badan menurun akan jadi masalah untuk baby. Kalau dia kurang sihat, kami terpaksa bawa baby ke bilik perubatan untuk bagi oxygen. Semua ambil masa yang lama untuk kekalkan cara penjagaan macam itu.
Mula-mula bagi susu itu memang susah sebab mahu cari cara untuk baby senang minum dan saya senang bagi. Saya perlu control masa baby hisap susu takut laju sangat minum, tidak minum dan hisap udara. Masa ini baby masih tidak minum banyak susu kadang puting susu masih di mulut tapi tidak minum tidur dia, kena bagi pergerakan supaya baby tahu yang dia masih menyusu.
Adrian: On the first day of taking care of the cub, Luna, I was worried and a little scared because the cub was still tiny and looked soft. Our task every day would start off with taking the weight of the cub around eight in the morning. We do this in order for us to know the amount of milk she needed on that day. After each feeding, we would stimulate her to defecate and urinate using a wet tissue or gauze. After that, the temperature were measured and recorded. Temperature that are not within the normal range can be a problem for a cub. If she is unwell, we have to bring the baby to the medical room for oxygen. The kind of care that is given for her takes up plenty of time.
The first time I was feeding the cub, I was worried that I would hold her too tight and hurt her. It wasn't easy to feed Luna because I wanted to find a comfortable position to feed her and make sure she could drink the milk easily. I need to control the amount of milk that is being suckled into her because it will be a problem if she is drinking too much or sucking the air in the milk bottle instead of the milk. In the early days,Luna would not consume a lot of milk. Sometimes the nipple would still be in the mouth but she would fall asleep after drinking half way. So, I have to push the milk bottle a little bit so that she knows that she is still drinking milk.
Adrian: Bila start nampak mata baby ada sikit terbuka memang ada rasa excited sebab tidak sabar tunggu baby boleh jalan dan melihat dunia ini. Dua-dua mata baby sudah buka tapi penglihatan belum sempurna. Tapi baby nampak lagi cute bila sudah buka mata. Walaupun tidak ada cuping telinga. Masa untuk bagi baby berjalan-jalan, guna carpet getah untuk base baby. Bila mula-mula letak baby marah sebab kapet tu ada biji-biji mungkin baby tidak selesa. Lapik dengan tuala dan underpad baru tidak nangis-nangis tapi still ada buat bunyi. Bila lepas susu atau sebelum bagi susu akan biar baby jalan-jalan di atas karpet yang di lapis tuala dan underpad. Biasa baby akan bising, kadang sampai office dengar suara si baby. Masih belum boleh angkat badan lagi, kepala saja yang dapat angkat. Tapi nampak perubahan yg semakin hari semakin cepat. Dia cuba untuk bediri empat kaki tapi masih belajar guna kaki belakang. Tidak sabar tunggu dia boleh berjalan, play fight, bawa untuk berjalan di hutan, dan tengok baby membesar dengan baik.
Adrian: When Luna cries, we will feed her with milk. Sometimes, she would be fast asleep for longer hours without crying. So, I would need to wake her up carefully. Once she wakes up, I would feed her milk. When I saw the cub's eyes opening up a little, I was very excited because I could not wait for the baby to start walking and seeing the world. Luna's eyes are completely open but her vision is not clear yet. With her eyes now wide open, even without the outer ears, she looks cuter. Once it was time for Luna to take a walk, we laid a rubber carpet as a base and placed her on it. When we put her on it for the first time, she was angry because there were small and round bumps on the carpet, which might have made her uncomfortable. After that, we put a towel and underpad on the carpet and she stopped crying but she would still be moaning. Since then, the cub has walking time that is done before or after feeding. Luna would make noise, and sometimes her voice can be heard throughout the office. She still does not know how to stand properly, but she is able lift her head. She seems to be getting better day by day. She tries to stand on all four feet but she is still learning to use her hind legs. I cannot wait she can walk, play fight, take for a forest walk, and watch the cub grow well.
Danny: Luna sangat comel apabila tidur tapi bila waktunya dia bangun untuk mmimun susu, dia akan nangis. Pemberian susu kepada anak beruang tersebut juga dijaga termasuk jumlah susu dan suhu susu ketika diberikan kepada anak beruang tersebut. Suhu susu semasa diberikan kepada anak beruang mesti kadalam keadaan tidak panas dan tidak sejuk, dalam erti lain suam.
Kebiasaannya apabila dia selesai meminum susunya dia selalunya akan dibantu untuk membuang air besar dan membuang air kecil. Cara-cara yang dilakukan adalah berbeza bagi setiap penjaga(staff) anak beruang ini. Cara penjaga membantu anak beruang ini untuk membuang air kecil dan membuang air besar adalah membuat anak beruang tersebut terbaring di tangan penjaga.kemudian saya akan membasahkan sedikit bahagian pada tisu dan menggosokkan pada tepi kemaluannya dengan perlahan sehinggalah dia membuang air besar dan air kecilnya. Semasa dia kencing, dia akan memancutkan kencingnya dengan sekuat tenaganya hingga membuat kencingnya terkena pada penjaga dan ini terjadi pada setiap penjaga dan kadang kala ada juga yang terkena dengan tahi anak beruang tersebut.
Danny: Luna is very cute when she sleeps but when she wakes up to drink milk, she will cry out loud. Feeding cub is exquisite which include the amount of milk and milk temperature when feeding the cub. The temperature of the milk for to the cub must be neither hot nor cold, in other words warm.
Usually, after she drinks her milk, we will stimulate her to defecate and urinate. Each cub keeper uses different methods to help her. I think the easiest way is to let the cub lie on my hand. Then I would wet a small part of the tissue and slowly rub on the edge of her genital until she defecates and urinates. She will start urinate and then defecate but as she urinates, she might spray her urine on me. This happens to every keepers, and sometimes we also come in contact with her faeces too.
How is Luna now?
Adrian: Baby sudah start untuk berdiri 4 kaki, tapi masih belum boleh berjalan macam beruang lain, kadang Nampak macam penyu pun ada. Ada masa di mana baby macam main dengan saya. Bagi baring di tangan dan cuba kacau-kacau dia, baby peluk tangan dan buka mulut macam mahu gigit.
Luna has started to stand on four legs, but still cannot walk well. Sometimes all her legs pushing forward and looks like a turtle. Sometimes she seems like want to play. So I will let her lie on my hands and play with her gently. She will hold my hands and opens her mouth as if she wants to bite me.
Danny: Setiap hari tumbusarannya semakin meningkat dengan baik dan setiap hari semakin kuat. Walaupun kedua cuping telinganya tidak ada, anak beruang tetap terlihat garang dan liar. Kedua mata sudah terbuka, walaupun penglihatan masih tidak jelas. Perasaan tidak sabar sangatlah kuat di dalam diri saya untuk memperlihatkannya keadaan dan suasana hutan. Kerana hutan adalah rumah dan syurga bagi meraka.
Luna is getting better and stronger every day. Although both outer ear are missing, the cub still looks fierce and wild. Her eyes are opened, although the vision is still not clear. However, I cannot wait to show her the forest. Because the forest is a home and paradise for them.
What do you want to say to Luna?
Adrian: Apa pun, saya harap LUNA akan membesar dengan baik dan sihat. Jadi beruang yang liar mampu berdikari, laju makan, senang di jaga, senang bergaul dengan beruang lain, tidak suka moody macam romolina. LUNA the moon of sunbear, bintang daughter, and the baby of BSBCC.
In any case, I hope Luna will grow up well and healthy. She will be a wild sun bear that is able to be independent, good in foraging, good at socialising, and with a good personality. Luna is the moon of sunbear, the daughter of Bintang (Star), and the baby of BSBCC.