Video by Chiew Lin May
"It hard to say goodbye but it is their destiny!"
Three sun bears were released back into the wild in Tabin Wildlife Reserve on April 14th, 2019 after four years of rehabilitation at the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre (BSBCC).
Watch how Boboi, Kitud and Tan Tan have been prepared for their new life in the wild!
Orphaned sun bears who have been given a second chance of survival in the wild, thanks to your support for our work! To make a donation or find out other ways to help, visit the BSBCC website at www.bsbcc.org.my
Video by Chiew Lin May
Having respect for animals makes us better humans." -Dr.Jane Goodall
Tan-Tan seems to be super excited for the weekend in the wild! A little LOVE can make a BIG difference! Please help Tan-Tan and her friends the life they deserve -Wild
Video by Chiew Lin May
Sunday! Another day, another experience!
Little Logan enjoys getting dirty digging, sunbathe and rolling on the hollow log!
Let's make second chances for them to be free sun bears in the wild.
Text and Photos by Chiew Lin May
On the 10th of August 2018, it was a beautiful morning, Romolina’s surrogate mother took her out to the forest to experience the sounds and smells of forest environment for the first time.
After she had lost her mother and spent much of her time living as an illegal house pet, Romolina was given a second chance of freedom. Upon arrival, Romolina’s bodyweight was appropriate and she showed signs of stunted growth, but these have never caused her to fail at learning to be a wild bear like the other rescued bear cubs did!
In the wild, Romolina’s mother would have taught her everything she needs to know to survive in the wild, but now she has to learn these skills by herself.
On the 18th of August 2018, we brought Romolina out to the forest together with her best peer, Logan. Every time their surrogate mother has taken them out to have a walk, Romolina and Logan have been ready to explore and made their way over to the deep forest.
They straight away started to venture, displaying wild bear behaviour!
Romolina loves to forage. She will stay in one area for a long time and becomes busy digging out all the termites, beetles and ants. The termites and ants better watch out for her! She will survey and explore the forest around her. She shows enthusiasm for her delicious food, while Logan will check on her and keep trying to distract Romolina from doing other things so that she can play with him.
Sometimes, Romolina will avoid playing with Logan by climbing high up into the trees. She is an arboreal little bear!
Up in the canopy, she will hang around and tear into the tree bark searching for tasty treats. She does not care about Logan’s appearance.
On their daily walk, Logan will initiate play wrestling, chasing, rolling and climbing trees with Romolina, just like loving friends do!
These have been some of the BEST days of their lives - FUN!
Romolina becomes more nervous when it comes to crossing the stream. The first time she discovered the stream she was unsure what to do with it and sometimes she would step back from crossing it if the water level was too high for her compared to Logan who just loves to dip in the stream.
It is a delight to see how courageous they are.
They are developing into strong sun bears and are doing amazingly well in the forest!
Please provide them a better future and let the rescued bears live the life of freedom that was stolen by us.
Text & Photos by Chiew Lin May
Found abandoned near Lokan River, Kulu-Kulu Village in Sabah and kept in a cage for three months as a house pet. He was then surrendered to the Sabah Wildlife Department and sent to BSBCC on the 19th of May, 2018. Every year, orphaned sun bears are rescued by the Sabah Wildlife Department or are surrendered by local people. Sun bear cubs are targeted for the illegal pet trade, hunted for food or used in traditional medicine. It is believed that their mother will be killed so that the poacher can snatch the bear cub. In the wild, sun bear cubs will spend the first two to three years of their lives with their mom. Without his mother to teach him the skills he needs, the sun bear becomes incapable of being released back into the wild and they must rely on our rehabilitation support.
The rehabilitation process after his arrival starts with strong bonding with his surrogate mother (bear care taker), where he slowly gains trust, strength and can be a wild bear again. The surrogate mother then will be assisting in daily walks in the forest with the bear cub to give them a second chance to learn all of the skills needed to survive in the forest.
The youngest male sun bear cub, Logan has settled happily into his new life. You can see how much little Logan has grown in that time and how chubby he is now with a weight of 15.10 kg.
This brave bear that has lost his mother endured a lifetime of suffering in captivity and has never known the wild freedom he was born to have. On the 7th of June 2018, Logan finally felt the sunshine and grass under his little paws again!
Logan will get to play in the forest, learn to forage, climb trees and explore the forest. He learns to trust every day. The surrogate mother is helping little Logan to learn just how to be a wild bear!
Day by day it is such a blissful time in the morning, he knows when we are going to start walking him in the forest. He will quickly climb down from his basket and without hesitation he will run into the dense forest. He is developing very well and showing great progress with his forest skills.
No surprise – he is always busy foraging and filling his tummy! Sun bears are opportunistic omnivores. For Logan, he loves to dig by using his sharp curved claws and strong teeth in search his favourite wild food - termites, ants, insects, pill millipedes and bird carcasses. When he finds something for his own, he is very happy about it! Sometimes Logan will stand up on his hind legs to get a better smell or view of something that attracted his attention.
Logan was missing his left thumb and his left front paw has developed abnormally, but these have never made give him up and he is always full of enthusiasm climbing trees. He loves to learn new skills and develops his small muscles every day! He is an agile climber where he uses his powerful legs, feet with hairless soles and sharp claws to climb the tree. Right after foraging he will choose a tree he loves and climb it. He learns the way to climb trees or liana and just enjoys the beautiful sun view! He is so brave! He always wants to make the most of what he has got! Only sometimes he will easily get tired after he tries to climb too many trees.
When he gets excited roaming the forest he will start to play fight and wrestle with his surrogate mother. He loves to play with anything and everything.
He is a very active little bear! He knows the way to the stream and enjoys dipping, chilling in the stream or laying his snout deep in the water to beat the hot weather! Logan takes great pleasure enjoying his freedom each day in the forest.
For little Logan, his newfound freedom has meant to him: tearing decayed wood, finding his favourite food such as termites, sun bathing, and soaking in the stream. We cannot wait to see the next challenge he has to learn to grow every day.
Looking at these pictures, it is hard believe he is a huge part of the forest life now and is also catching his daily experience in life. Watching him is like watching any bear cubs in the wild!
Text by Chiew Lin May
Photos by Seng Yen Wah & Chiew Lin May
Montom arrived safely at the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre (BSBCC), after a long trip from the Kampung Melankap, Kota Marudu on January 21st, 2015.
The story reported to the Wildlife Rescue Unit was that their dog chased away his mother and she left Montom behind. He was taken and kept as a pet for a year inside a chicken wire mesh cage and was fed with the wrong diet. The owner was willing to surrender Montom to the Sabah Wildlife Department’s Wildlife Rescue Unit. During the arrival, he was stressed and weighed 26.8kg.
The rehabilitation process is long as it takes time for them to learn the vital skills they need to survive in the wild. This step begins with a period of quarantine to recover mentally from their traumatic years in the illegal pet trade, gain back trust and commence rehabilitation at BSBCC. With care and love from our bear team, he slowly recovers from the pain and trauma of being separated from his mother. His appetite is great and he is an active bear. He is quickly settling into his new environment and is getting a taste of the sweet life at the BSBCC.
Thank you to the Sabah Wildlife Department who rescued Montom so that he can have a second chance at living a happy wild bear life.
Since his arrival at the BSBCC, Montom has thrived. He made his first friend, Susie2 and enjoys the social play very much!
Over ten months after Montom was rescued from the illegal pet trade, where all he knew was fear and pain, on October 1st, 2015 he and Susie2 took their biggest step out from their dens into the forest and sunshine outside!
Montom kept looking up at all the TALL trees, again and again.
He is an exceptionally brave bear!
Montom moved around a lot to forage.
He went out quickly to his forest and began foraging eagerly for his favorite food.
In Malay language, the sun bear is known as “beruang madu” (honey madu) since it likes consuming honey. The sun bear has an extremely acute sense of smell. He will become incredibly excited if he finds honey! The availability of tasty beetles, pill millipedes, termites, ants and invertebrates has caused Montom to love spending more time on feeding and staying in the forest. This is EXCELLENT for him! He can always be seen sitting and eating his food between his fore paws.
Montom is a very inquisitive bear and is doing very well in the forest.
He is surprisingly good at climbing for his age.
Montom climbed up into the trees to continue his exploration of the forest.
You could hear tearing sounds from above – finding termites!
There has been one time that Montom was hanging upside down and had tied himself with the vines; he was having so much fun!
He is happy to be with all his bear friends where they can be free to forage,
sniff for HONEY,
chat with bear friends,
have a good roll in the soil
and growl together!
Montom is quite playful and he enjoys play wrestling with Kala.
He is one of the peacemakers and is a very gentle bear.
He will normally find a nice shaded place to have a nap.
On rainy days, he loves staying high up in the trees to cool off and avoid leeches!
Sun bears are very expressive!
He loves beaming his big bear SMILE and thoroughly enjoys himself!
He has embraced everything about his new life.
Way to go Montom! He is on his way to learning more skills that will help him return to the forest one day!!
Text by Chiew Lin May
Photos by Seng Yen Wah & Chiew Lin May
On January 10th, 2014 a six month old, male sun bear cub (Rescue No-37), was rescued from a Mini Zoo and Hot Springs in Tawau, South Eastern Sabah. Sunbearo arrived to BSBCC from Lok Kawi Zoo on the 10th of March 2014
Thin and dehydrated. His life at the Tawau Hot Spring was spent in a confinement cage. Like so many other rescued sun bears, his mother had been killed and he had been taken from the forest. Based on his teeth and malnourished appearance, it was likely he was being fed the wrong diet. His weight during the arrival was 11.6kg. Originally he was known as Tan Sri, which was the name of his owner from the Mini Zoo and Hot Spring in Tawau. Sunbearo is a special sun bear cub and has been adopted and re-named by Neways International (Australia) Pty. Huge thanks to the support from Neways International (Australia) Pty, which enables us to protect Sunbearo.
Sunbearo has a beautiful tiny crescent sun in the shape of a “V” on his chest!
He was placed into quarantine before being introduced to the other cubs of his own age.
He seemed very fragile as his muscles were not strong due to his tiny size, and he was nervous when it came to climbing. The bear care team gives him and his friends a chance to play in their dens. He was given new enrichment toys and a healthy diet.
He quickly adapted to his new home where he has become more trusting and relishes every fresh fruit. HONEY is not an exception!!
On the 24th of April 2014, Sunbearo and Loki were integrated for the first time.
He slowly started to build trust with the bears and learnt that bears can be great friends. Loki, Bintang, Montom, Susie2, Damai and Kala are Sunbearo’s bear play friends. They love playing with each other.
He enjoys having friends to share freedom experiences with. Slowly, he has put his past behind him and is learning to be a wild bear again.
A shining start to the day! On the 28th of December 2015, Sunbearo had finally overcome his fear and took his first step out on the forest soil.
It is a great pleasure to see the first glimpses of these rescued sun bears stepping out to forest for their first time! Sunbearo sniffed around the tall trees.
He knew that he deserved a better chance to express his natural behavior and learn how to become a wild bear.
He is now outside foraging, climbing and enjoying himself. He loves the opportunity and uses all his senses to forage in the soil!
Sun bears are the arboreal bear and spend their time in trees. Sunbearo and Montom will immediately climb up and wrestle on top of the trees.
His long, sickle curved claws will help him in climbing trees and scraping off tree barks for termites.
He has a strong, close bond with Loki. Sunbearo and Loki can be found loving hanging out and spending time up in the trees, watching everything going on around them.
After four years of undergoing rehabilitation at our centre, Sunbearo has grown in size, skill and confidence.
He is a fussy eater.
If there are special sweet treats in the enclosure, Sunbearo usually hoovers everything up and licks every last bit of honey without wasting it! Around feeding time at the bear house, he can often be found growling for food. But most of all, he just loves foraging for extra protein.
In regards to nest building, we have not seen any tree nest building behavior from him. He will stay a while in a nest built by Loki or Damai.
Sunbearo is doing better and is enjoying life in a natural forest.
It is amazing to see a sun bear that was literally suffering from pet trade now looking healthy, free from pain and enjoying life as a sun bear. Sun bears are threatened in Southeast Asia by rapid poaching, illegal wildlife trade and habitat destruction. Please help us fight to free the bears from their major threats. The exploitation of the greed towards this little known bear species must end.
Text by Chiew Lin May
Photos by Seng Yen Wah & Chiew Lin May
We are delighted to report that we have successfully released our third and fourth release candidates to the core area of Tabin Wildlife Reserve, located in Lahad Datu, Sabah on the 7th of March, 2018. Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre (BSBCC) aims to give back freedom to our rescued bears. Damai and Debbie are ready for reintroduction to their natural habitat. It has stolen our hearts to know that they are behaving like wild sun bears. This is an exciting moment and is wonderful to see our sun bears getting a second chance at life.
Debbie was purchased by a guy from Tuaran. She was surrendered to Sabah Wildlife Department and sent directly to BSBCC in January 2012. Debbie has grown into a healthy sun bear. She is a keen explorer! She developed a strong set of survival skills with her agility and superb climbing abilities, she adjusted to forest life with confidence and ease. After six years in rehabilitation, Debbie has grown to be the perfect candidate for release. She is now able to return to a life of freedom!
Damai arrived at BSBCC way back in November 2012, when she was found wandering in a car park near Kota Kinabalu. She was then rescued and transported to BSBCC. Now at six years old, beautiful Damai weighing 39.6 kg is ready to say goodbye to BSBCC after years of rehabilitation. Damai is independent in nature. She knows what she wants and tries to take care of her own needs all by herself.
Both Damai and Debbie are now in excellent condition and are progressing well in BSBCC rehabilitation, where they are learning their survival skills. Both have become very skilled tree nest builders by using branches, liana and green leaves. They love to spend time up in the treetops! They are also excellent in foraging for termites, grubs and invertebrates. They have quickly picked up forest skills. These two rescued sun bears had completed their rehabilitation and are ready to live independently in the wild. They are looking forward to enjoying life in the wild! We cannot wait for Damai and Debbie to enjoy this freedom!
On 6th March 2018, Dr. Nabila Sarkawi from Sabah Wildlife Department veterinarian, sedated the release candidates at around 2.50 p.m. and moved the two bears to the medical tables for a final health check, and then safely transferred them into the transportation cages. They were placed at the bear house for a night with close monitoring by our release team.
Ready to depart!! On 7th March 2018, at 3.00 a.m. Damai and Debbie were loaded onto the vehicles at BSBCC, ready for the long journey. They were very well cared for by the release team throughout this process. The journey from BSBCC to Tabin Wildlife Reserve took about three hours by car.
It is time!!
We are wishing the best of luck to Damai and Debbie as they begin their new lives in the wild.
Upon reaching Tabin Wildlife Reserve, the team quickly prepared the transport cages to be airlifted by helicopter (model Sabah Air Aviation Sdn Bhd (Bell 206) Longranger Underslung). Damai and Debbie were then airlifted to their new home!
In the meantime, our release team entered the mud volcano of Tabin Wildlife Reserve before the bears arrived in order to evaluate and identify the suitable release site.
This is the moment that everyone was waiting for. Once Damai and Debbie arrived at the core area,
The team carried them to the release points deep in the forest.
It was amazing to see them getting back their freedom!
We started by releasing Damai first, and then followed by Debbie.
As soon as the transportation cage door opened, Damai explore the nearest tree to begin her life of freedom.
While Debbie walk straight into the forest without becoming agitated.
We kept our distance and continued to observe them through the tall trees! Damai and Debbie were released into their Borneo forest and could taste true freedom in their new home! We were delighted to see Damai and Debbie thriving in our care. They have all made long journeys in their lives, and now is it the right time for them to return back to where they belong. Stay healthy and strong Damai and Debbie!! We also will monitor their movement via satellite collar to ensure they are thriving.
BSBCC would like to express gratitude for the support of all parties, their contributions and dedication to assisting with this release process and our sun bear conservation efforts!
This is where you can help make a difference! Every donation helps orphan sun bears like Damai and Debbie here back to the their true home - FOREST. You can donate to http://www.bsbcc.org.my/donate.html Your donation is much appreciated!
Text & Photos by Chiew Lin May
A sub adult, female sun bear was rescued by Sabah Wildlife Department (SWD) on 2nd May, 2012. She was named Ah Bui (Rescue No. 30), which means “friend” in local Murut language. Ah Bui came to the BSBCC on the 4th of May 2012, when she was two years old. She was originally from Sook village, Keningau. Ah Bui was kept by a person who almost sold her for the purpose of removing her gall bladder.
Imagine if we were late to rescue her, she would have become starved and wounded which would have caused terrible pain. Sun bears are hunted or killed in the wild to remove their gall bladder. Bear bile is used in traditional Asian medicine which can be useful for treating liver and gall bladder illnesses. Initial health checks showed her in good health with a weight of 25kg.
One of the primary goals of BSBCC is to conserve sun bears through creating the capacity to rehabilitate and release suitable orphaned and ex-captive bears back into the wild. Ah Bui has been given a second chance to survive in the wild. BSBCC enables rescued sun bear to live their life peacefully with the best of care. After 30 days of quarantine, free from pain, vet care and nutrition care, she had adjusted very well to life at the centre.
On 4th July 2012, Ah Bui finally met her first bear friend, Debbie. The close relationship formed among Ah Bui, Debbie and Fulung has lasted to this day.
Our rescued sun bears have access to the forest enclosure where they have tall trees to climb, a pool to cool off in, and iron wood to nap on. But when the rescued bears have stayed in a tiny cage for many years where they lost the chance to experience simple things from the natural world, it can be challenging for them to step out to the forest.
It requires considerable time and expense to restore the wild behavior of sun bears that have been victims of the illegal pet trade.
On 11th June 2013, Ah Bui and her friends took a huge step out to the door for her first glimpse of tall trees and to sniff the air! Slowly, she started with digging and turning dead wood to look for termites.
Ah Bui and her friends are well suited to their environment. Her short hair allows her to survive in the tropical forest. She enthusiastically destroys anything.
Sometimes she appears to be basking in the sun on a fallen decayed tree, absorbing the warmth of the sun’s rays. She is more than happy to lay around. She learns many of the forest skills that she would have naturally learned from her mother.
Ah Bui is a skillful climber, aided by long sickle-shaped claws that help her climb to the top of the tree canopy. She now very much enjoys climbing trees and has gained a lot of confidence and independence! She has been recorded to climb over to other forest enclosures through the trees five times!
Ah Bui also loves to climb high up and build a prefect sleeping nest.
She is learning and experiencing that life can be great! She is well enough to go outside and enjoy every minute of every day. She enjoys the sheer pleasure of being alive.
We can ensure that Ah Bui is ready for reintroduction. Ah Bui is healthy and she has developed her survival skills and wild behavior to equip her for life in the forest. It is always great to see our rescued sun bears back in the forest where they belong.
Please share the love. The rescued sun bears need to and deserve to live a wild bear life as any bear does.
Text and Photos by Chiew Lin May
In Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre (BSBCC) we have had a busy month with big changes for the rescue sun bear. Some introduced and meet new bear friends, give them environment which is as close as possible to life in the wild, given regular environmental enrichment to stimulate their natural bear behaviour, some going through fence training before out to forest enclosure and some learning and reintroduce to forest environment, some explore in the wild.
Dodop had been kept illegally as house pet by residents in Singgaron village, Ranau district Sabah who had spent over one year in the smallest cage we had ever seen. She was found missing all four milk canines before she been rescued by Sabah Wildlife Department.
Dodop has much tame or attach to human who have been kept for long periods in captivity. She need special attention during her rehabilitation process but her wounds from being kept as pet have healed well, she shows great progress, gaining weight, no more cry or growling, four permanent canines is growing and...
she love play with a nine months old female sun bear cub, Wawa. They seems have a wonderful relationship.
Next rehabilitation phase for Dodop is taking her out for walks in the forest. Having been without her mother since she was a tiny cub, Dodop has never been taught the survival skills she will need to survive in the wild. Now she will have to learn from her surrogate mother.
We are delighted that on August 14th, 2016 once the quarantine door was opened, Dodop makes a speedy getaway!
Dodop was not sure at first that she step on the forest soil, she spent her first moments of freedom just digs soil,
digs dead log and
sniff forest air.
Then her surrogate mother carried her to put her on tree which reintroduce or encourage her to climbing to improve Dodop’s mobility. She had no clue what is these big tree is all about...
but slowly she realized there were so many tall trees around her.
Dodop is bright and curious always.
She contact with variety of plants, trees and animal (insects, long-tailed macaques and pig- tailed macaques).
Dodop quick to settle in and started exploring environment.
Everytimes walk her in the forest, she immediately started to look for wild food first by digging it. She is quite curious and getting deep into it.
Dodop sense is tremendous, enabling her to locate termite nests! She will expose the termite nests with her long claws and lick out by using superb long tongue.
She has been eating many kinds of foods such as termites, beetle larvae, snail and earthworms.
Sun bears are arboreal living and good in tree climbers. They climb trees to get honey in the bee hives. Dodop is no exception as well.
She will climb high trees and looks though as she knows everything here!
She enjoys sunbathing on trees. She feel the cool breeze.
Sometimes Dodop will interacting more with her surrogate mother. She will play fight and learn defense skills or suckle on surrogate mother shoulder to seek comfort and feel safe being with her mother. This behavior seen in the wild where the baby will suckling for mother’s milk make the baby feel comfort and safe.
Dodop will still being guided by her surrogate mother and develop, master her forest skills she needs to become independent.
Our bear team will monitors Dodops’ behavioural development is her new home. We love learning about sun bears and have been inspired by these magnificent creatures.
Watching beautiful freedom dash about Dodop life, you will have no idea that this is the sun bear life should be!
As the sun bear cub at the Centre, Dodop is quite a character with a strong sense of nature with beautiful yellow sun bear crescent chest mark.
She is free and happy to put her old trauma life behind her.
Dodop has learnt two lessons at an early age - that is in indeed a forest out there and that there really is no place like forest home! She has never stop try and appreciate it! Please help us stop the illegal keeping and exploitation of sun bears. Sun bears belong in the wild and should not be kept as pets!