Text by Shauna Tay
Day 1, 12th April, was the beginning of Linggam’s adventure. After a year of being in the indoor enclosure with BSBCC, for training purposes, and who knows how many years before that in a small cage, he is finally ready to be introduced to the outdoor enclosure. The outdoor enclosure is a large patch of the forest that is fenced up for these newly introduced bears, making sure they don’t run off without us knowing that they have the ability to survive on their own. Many would expect that once the gate is opened for Linggam to enter the huge forest area he’d run at the first chance he could get. However, that’s not the case for many of these bears. They’ve been captive animals for most of their lives – all they know is their cage or pen. They don’t know yet that they belong out in the wild.
We placed various fruits all over the forest area, as well as on his ramp to encourage him to come down from his pen. He took several minutes to even take the nerve to sniff the ramp. I reckon he was just shocked by the sudden gush of nature’s smells that entered his pen. He would take a step out, take a deep – yet quick – sniff, then jump backwards further into his pen. This would continue for a while until at one point he actually kept walking down the ramp eating fruits, extremely cautious of course, and took his first step on the soil. It took 5 seconds until he went into mad panic. He started running back and forth underneath the gate, too frightened he didn’t find his way back up the ramp, and jumped 3 feet through his gate and safely back into his pen. After that heart-breaking incident, he didn’t try come back out. It’s clear there is some room for improvement!
Day 2, 13th April, was the second attempt. We set everything up just like before. He repeated what he’d done the day earlier, as he would take a few steps then reverse back in over and over again. Eventually, he made it to the bottom of the ramp and touched the soil again. It’s extremely sad to know that this may be the first time he’s ever stepped on soil. After a few minutes of eating the nearest fruits he fled back into his pen, overwhelmed with all his five senses working harder than ever before. He still has very far to go, but this is without a doubt his first step to an even better quality of life.
Day 3, 15th April, Linggam made great progress as he stayed out of his pen longer than he had the previous days. He was still extremely cautious and aware of everything around him, but he wasn’t as hesitant to step onto the ground this time. However, you could see the pattern – the more food around him, the longer he’d be out; the less food around him, the less time he’d be out. There was a gradual decline in minutes with each time he came out of his pen. Our next step: place a food puzzle outside. It’ll be a motivation and challenge for him to stay in the outdoors. Let’s hope the next few days he’ll find it easier to take a few more steps. After all, each step is one more step to overcoming his fear.