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 and Photos by Chiew Lin May
Kala is an 8 month old female sun bear cub who was rescued by the Sabah Wildlife Department on January 2015. At the time of her rescue, Kala showed signs of being emaciated, dehydrated and malnourished.
Thanks to the Sabah Wildlife Department, Kala was saved and brought to a new home at BSBCC. Six months later, she has progressed well and developed new skills during her rehabilitation. Kala’s appetite has come roaring back as well. Her balanced diet consists of a combination of dog milk replacer, fruits, vegetables and porridge. She now weighs 15.95 kg. She is growing bigger and stronger. Kala has a full set of adult teeth. “Sun bear cubs have a period where they grow very fast, typically when they are 5 to 10 months where they can gain 3 to 4 kg each month” - Wong Siew Te
Chart below shows the growth curve of Kala cub (Updated 17th July 2015). Showing she is healthy and keeps growing gracefully!
The sun bear cub will be offered different types of enrichment to stimulate and prepare her for life back in the wild. Inside Kala’s den, we provide enrichment such as Kong, Aussie Dog Ball, natural habitat enrichment (logs, dead wood, branches, dry leaves, fresh plant and etc.) and manipulation based treats. She’s making full use of the structural enrichments in the den. The big basket with the hammock is her favourite!
On February 26th, 2015 Kala caught her first glimpse of the world outside the forest. She has been exploring every patch of the forest and she is already picking out some favourite spots. Sun bears are opportunistic omnivores. Kala enjoys searching for termites, earthworms, beetle larvae and eating soil. Sun bear’s jaws provide a powerful bite and tear force. Kala will use her teeth to tear into trees to get insects beneath the bark. She is a pro at all speeds and directions of sun bear locomotion! She explores by herself and loves to run or roll about on the forest floor.
Sun bears are very adapt climbers, and cubs especially spend time climbing trees. She shows tremendous improvement in climbing skills, using her well-muscled little body with sharp claws that help her to grip trees during climbing. She can be cheeky when climbing trees. She will try to show us how great it is – a true home for her! Little Kala explores the tree canopy, and then finds a comfy liana or log to rest. Though all the challenges with skills, she keeps up her adventurous and playful behavior.
Here are the photos show Kala in different age and grow. Let look what Kala doing and spending at rainforest.
- 3 months old - (First arrival at BSBCC)
- 4 months old -
- 5 months old -
- 6 months old -
- 7 months old -
- 8 months old -
As a sun bear cub Kala is learning the skills and strength she needs to survive in the wild. Her forest skills continue to improve. Sun bears are magnificent and beautiful creatures in their natural habitat but because of habitat destruction, pet trade and poaching they have been led to decline by at least 30 per cent in the last three decades, they need our help! Please show your support and help the smallest bear species by adopting Kala and her friends! Your support enables us to care for these orphaned sun bears.