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Text by Kevin Andrews
Photos by Jacquelyn Jill Jepiuh & Jude Ailton George
My name is Kevin Andrews and I am from the United States. Over the last year I have been on a journey to see all 8 species of bear in the world within their wild and natural habitats to raise conservation and awareness about each one and their struggles. Not an easy task with some bears like the sun bear. Due to the struggles they face with their population in decline and the actual number and current range of them not fully known. And because of that fact, I always wanted to spend time here at the BSBCC to be a part of the largest organization actively helping every day to keep this species future a possibility. What Dr. Wong and this center have achieved for sun bears is nothing short of remarkable. Being not only the smallest bear in the world but the bear we know LEAST about, this center gives a ray of hope and a glimpse at a better future for these bears.
The sessions I had with Dr Wong were also not only a surprise, as he is the CEO and founder who build this place from ground up, but such a great blessing. As he talks about the future plans of the BSBCC and what they hope to accomplish and ways people can help. These talks gave me true hope that these bears DO have a future. As so little is known about these bears, talking to the single person who has done more than anyone to help them and knows more about them than anyone, he is able to offer invaluable information in order to find more ways to save them and help raise awareness about their struggle. You can see that passion, and love in him every time he talks about the bears. With all the time he gives to the people here and the center it is truly inspiring for the next generation to start following his footsteps in sun bear conservation.
To sum everything up, my time here at the BSBCC was invaluable for so many reasons. Being able to work with these bears every day, build enrichments for them, see them walk around in the jungle like they would naturally, and just be close to them I was able to learn so much about these species and the true nature of what this center does for them. The work you do here is not easy, it consists of long and hot, very humid days, some of which are going into the jungle to search for enrichments and some in the enclosures fixing fences or cleaning.
But seeing these bears every day, learning their unique personalities, watching them sleep in the canopy tops of the jungle enclosures. Every day you get to work to make their lives better. And that alone make every mosquito and leech bite, and every gallon of sweat very much worth it. The bear keepers that you work with every day are also such amazing and friendly people that you will leave here full of smiles and friends. Their passion for these bears truly does shine through and you can tell they are here because of a true desire to help them. And they are so great with answering questions and educate you on every aspect of this center and how it works.
When you leave BSBCC, you will leave here feeling more educated about these bears, their struggle as a species and what needs to be done. And you will also leave here feeling like you did help in a small part to contribute to these bears lives. And I hope more people will come here and find that passion and drive to help with conservation that comes with working here. I will definitely be back again! As my journey with bears has only just begun.