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Text by Shauna Tay; Photos by Siew Te Wong
The independent women (sun bears la..) of BSBCC – Cerah, Jelita, and Lawa – were let out into a newly secure forest enclosure (Enclosure C) last week . They’ve previously been out into Enclosure D on a regular basis and have all become confident to outdoors. On the 20th of April we had fixed Enclosure C where the fence were damaged by fallen branches that was much larger and with more new trees, vegetation, and smells for them to discover.
Some background knowledge about these three ladies; all sent at different times from Lok Kawi Zoo in Kota Kinabalu. Their ages range from 4-5 years, with Lawa as the dominant one in the group. Cerah and Jelita are the best of friends (which is surprising as bears are usually solitary animals) and absolutely adore each other’s company.
On Day 1 Cerah and Jelita had gone out happily into this big patch of forest. However Lawa stayed back in the pen – still building up the courage to go out as this was a whole new area. For their 2 o’clock meal of fruits, we had scattered them all over the outdoor enclosure to encourage them to eat out in the forest, where they should, rather than in their pen. This is also done to encourage foraging – a very important skill for a wild bear to have.
While Lawa hung around in their pen, Cerah and Jelita decided to be rebels. They didn’t come back in for their 4 o’clock porridge meal, yet decided to keep on exploring outdoors throughout the night! Although this was not planned, it’s actually a great thing as they would be able to find places for themselves to sleep outside, and also have the opportunity to build their own nests. We had left their pen door open for them to come back when they were ready, and sure enough they were sitting there with open arms for their breakfast in the morning.
Day 2, 3, 4 and 5 went on pretty much the same except that Cerah and Jelita actually returned for their evening meals rather than staying out all night. Day 6, Lawa finally stepped foot into the outdoor enclosure at 2pm. All three of the ladies are outside in the wilderness tonight. Hopefully with more observations, they’ll be in the queue to be released out into the wild – for good.