Text and Photos by Risa Arimoto (有本リサ)
I volunteered in BSBCC for two weeks. I’m from Japan and studying Veterinary Medicine in my university. This is my first time to come to Malaysia. One day I got friends from Malaysia in my university. They told me about Malaysia's beautiful nature and wild animals, especially in Borneo!
Here in Sepilok, I could see exactly! You can sleep with birds singing, see wild animals, full of stars…
I almost misunderstood, this is just a vacation. But I could work for Bornean Sun Bears!!
I helped workers clean bear’s dens, cut fruits and vegetables, feed them by walking in the jungle.
We cut these fruits every morning for sun bears. Even just cutting or calculating the fruits or vegetables is hard work! Because bears eat a lot, sometimes I got muscular pain. A whole pumpkin is the most hard to cut! I haven’t seen that such a big pumpkin in Japan…
Bears are inside fence. The fence last PenA to PenE. We can walk in the jungle, but with the bucket full of fruits or vegetables are a little bit difficult to walk.
The way they eat cucumbers, sugar canes, bananas, coconuts, pineapples, corns... everything is really cute!! And I surprised they are skillfull with their craws.
The time I watch how they eat in the forest is my most favorite time.
Eating a cucumber
I took this picture during she peal a coconut. I wanted to see her style drinking a coconut. She pealed almost all coconut's skin, but she suddenly stopped! Because she was tired of pealing a coconut!!
I also helped make hammock for bears. This is for enrichment. They use fire hose for this. It’s very clever and ecological!!
I was really really lucky, because I could see 5 bears coming to the center, also their medical check.
Yes, I am the first volunteer could see that!! Yeah!!
When they were coming, they roared scary voice. I haven't heard that in the center before. Because bears in the center are really used to the center and people. I was afraid of that voice , but I think bears are more frightened than us. And the most scary part is to transport cage to new cage. Bears are instantly not in the cage. Sun bears are smaller than other bears and sometimes they behave like a human, but when I saw the new bears from wild or heared their scary voice taught me once again they are real bears.
The next day, I could see the health check. I thought I just could see that but I could help Mr. Wong take TPR and blood samples!! I'm so sorry bears, I was afraid of you! Because maybe you have bad diseases!! I learnt in my school about animal's bacteria, parasites and a lot of diseases. But this experience is my first time touched wild animal. That was amazing! I was so excited! His(that new bear's name is Ronney) fare, claws, body, how to breathe, tongues... Everything is interesting! I haven’t seen these so closely.
I know they are not pets, so I shouldn't touch them, treat as pets just curious or for fan. In BSBCC, keepers and workers know a lot about sun bears. Their behaviors, why they do, what they want.. and they always think what is the best for bears.
Some people say, why you captured bears and feed them, Let's release bears to the jungle! At first, I thought almost same thing.
But I learnt if bears don't know how to survive, they can't live in jungle. If they don't have mother while they are young, they can't survive. So people in the BSBCC become their mother. They treat bears so well not as pets , as wildlife.
Yes, they are really serious about bears, BUT they are also funny person!!
Bear house always full of laughter.
And they bring me to Sandakan city to eat sea food, Sepilok Orang Utan Center, bird watching....
I went there with Thye lim(quick tongued),Tommy(play boy),Bee Yin(intelligent girl), Azzry(OTAKU)and David(Hentaino ojisan)!!
I had great great great time with not only sun bears but also staffs in BSBCC.
When I go back to Japan, I'll tell my friends, family, classmates about sun bears and my experience!
And I hope I could come back here again!!!!
Thank you so much!!!