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Text by Chiew Lin May and Joanna Yeo Mei Ling
Photo by Dawn Serene and Tee Thye Lim
As we approach the end of the year, it is time for the sun bears at BSBCC to do their annual health check. Typically conducted within the time frame of an hour, the purpose of the check up is to allow the Veterinary team to make a full assessment of the sun bears’ health status. These include an assessment of their overall health, potential sickness (e.g. signs of distress, ill-health, disease, injury etc.), functioning of the internal organs, healing rate of their wounds and physical being. If needed, medications and treatments are also provided during the examination. The veterinary team has been very helpful in giving advices and instructions for the care of our sun bears.
The first two bears to undergo health examination were female adult sun bears, Keningau (12 years old) and Susie (6 years old). This time round, the health check is done by a veterinarian from the Sabah Wildlife Department with the help of senior ranger Mr. Elis Tambing. Conducted in the morning, the entire procedure took around 2 hours to complete.
A typical health check starts off with the bears being put on general anesthesia. Following, the veterinary team will perform a thorough check on the bears’ health that includes the measurement of their weight, a check through of their physical condition, temperature, pulse and respiration rate as well as an inspection of their teeth, claw and joints. Blood and hair samples were also obtained to do further testings on potential infections by parasites. A few members of the BSBCC team, Gloria, Dawn, Thye Lim, Beyri and myself were also there to assist the veterinary team.
The procedure will then end off with the sun bears being brought back to their dens and monitoring the condition of the bears. For the coming weeks, the same routine will be conducted on the rest of the bears at the centre.