Text & Photos by Seng Yen Wah
Betung is the youngest cub in BSBCC. She is now ten months old. In April 2020, Betung was found alone by a villager's dog in Kampung Betung, Ranau district. When Betung was found, she was tiny. She had been kept in a small cage. Her diet lacked nutrition which affects her growth and development. When she came to the BSBCC, her weight was only 1.4kg. She was emaciated, malnourished and had multiple alopecias on her body. The villager surrendered her to the Sabah Wildlife Department and they sent her to the BSBCC on 26 August 2020. It took her two months to recover from her poor health.
Now, she has become a cute and playful bear. Without her mother being beside her, Betung lacks security. For her own good, we decided to let her be integrated with other bears. In 2020, we received three cubs, Kipaku (11 months old male cub), Itam (1-year-old female cub), and Betung. So, this provided an excellent opportunity to let them be friends.
25 December 2020
On Christmas day, Betung met with Kipaku and Itam.
First, Itam came into Betung’s cage. Betung saw Itam, and she growled. Itam climbed, while Betung stayed on the ground. Betung is curious, and she sniffs the sliding door. Itam approaches Betung for the first time. Betung growls and barks. Itam tries for a few times, but is rejected by Betung.
Betung bawled when she saw Kipaku. Kipaku tries to approach Betung, Betung barks at him immediately. Kipaku tries to get attention from Betung, but Betung is roaring at him.
On this first day of their integration, Betung was alert but afraid to meet Kipaku and Itam. However, there was no aggression.
26 December 2020
The next day, Kipaku met with Betung. Kipaku was excited to meet Betung. However, Betung did not feel the same way as Kipaku did. Kipaku stood on his hind legs, and he was ready to play. He pawed Betung. But Kipaku's way of playing is a bit rough for Betung and she growls at him. Kipaku then explored the environment and enrichment. Betung was curious about him but still kept her distance. Once Kipaku tried to approach Betung but she avoided him and growled at him.
After Kipaku, Itam came to meet Betung begining slowly and friendly. Itam seemed to know that Betung was scared. She kept her movement slow and low. They were very curious about each other and kept looking at what the other was doing. They were spending more time on investigating each other than playing.
27 December 2020
Once the sliding door opened, Betung approached Itam first. She was following Itam and sniffing her. Itam had her head down and approached Betung. Betung sniffed her. After this, Betung kept following Itam to find where she was. Itam played softly with Betung. They finally started to really play! The integration of Betung and Itam showed positive signs.
Kipaku joined them to have a play fight. Kipaku gave Betung his back, but Betung didn't want to play with him. Kipaku and Betung chase-and-run around the den. Kipaku took the first step to play fight with Betung. He softly bit Betung. Betung stopped avoiding him and started to play fight with Kipaku. Later, Itam joined them too. The three days of integration was a success.
After getting along, they were moved to a larger space - the exercise pen. Betung likes to be with Itam. If Kipaku was playing too rough for her, she will give him a warning bark to stay away. After Betung gets tired of playing with Kipaku and Itam, she explores the environment and enrichment alone.
Betung is the smallest bear that we have ever had. It's wonderful to see her growing up day by day, and now she has companions in her life. Betung’s life is better due to the companionship of Kipaku and Itam. We hope that these three little cubs can learn and support each other to become bears full of courage and confidence.