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Text by Ng Xin Hao
Photos by Chiew Lin May
I am Xin Hao , I am 17 years old and I am from Penang, Malaysia. I started my very first time volunteering for animals at Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre (BSBCC) in Sabah, Malaysia. Getting to know what a sun bear is and learning their behaviour was a very crazy and awesome experience.
The first thing I noticed at the bear house was the bear cage. The cage is very clean and does not have a bad and heavy smell. We soon get into the daily routine like cleaning the cages, preparing food for the bears, feeding the bears and creating enrichment for the bears to play. For me, I am creating a swing for Mamatai, the fattest bear in the bear house.
Before coming to Sabah, in Penang I rarely walked into the jungle. But at the BSBCC, every day we have to go into the jungle to have all the fences checked before letting the bears out of their cages. When it was my turn to go for the fence check, I try to escape from it because in the jungle there are leeches and I scared of them. But one day I been told to go into the jungle for 5 times, what a scary day that was for me. All the bear house staff were trying to bring me into the jungle.
Before getting to be a volunteer there was an interview with the staff at BSBCC to receive more information from us volunteers. When I was being interviewed, I always asked about getting physical contact with the bears. But the staff there told me there is no physical contact or touching the bears because the bears are given a second chance to be released back to the wild where they belong and we do not want the bears gets habituated.
After volunteering for 4 days, I was informed that I am going to assist in the medical check for the bears! And I was lucky enough to go on four medical checks with Dr. Yeoh Boon Nie. You could see Dr Yeoh is cleaning the bear’s teeth and taking blood sample from the bear.
We even have a chance to meet Dr Wong Siew Te himself. We asked him a lot of question about the sun bear, BSBCC and how he started before BSBCC. Dr Wong answered our question one by one with a story behind. A huge thank to all the staff, Paganakan Dii and other volunteers for making my first time experience in the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre a great time.