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Text and Photos by Chiew Lin May
Montom, is a three years old male sun bear. The name “Montom” means black in Dusun language and his personality matches his name. He arrived at BSBCC on January 21st, 2015. He was surrendered by his owner who had been keeping Montom as a pet at Kampung Melangkap, Kota Marudu. Montom’s owner reported to the Wildlife Rescue Unit that their dog chased away his mother and abandoned Montom. He was then taken and kept as a pet for a year. Just like a human, this behavior is very unlikely as a sun bear mother is very protective of their offspring and would not leave her infant alone at such a young age. Montom has lost the important time he needs to learn from his mother so he can become an independent wild sun bear.
During the quarantine period Montom was so alert with his surroundings and he would stay high up on the enrichment platform. He also would bark when he saw our staff around. He enjoys his quiet time and does not like any disturbances. Despite his young age, Montom showed amazing courage as he overcame his fear and quickly adapted to his new environment over the last three months. Montom has a big appetite and his favorites are banana, papaya, watermelon and honey. With his nutritious diet, he is getting physically stronger.
After Montom finished his quarantine period, he was moved to a larger exercise den which is equipped with enrichment tools such as dry leaves, green leaves, and old logs to learn all the necessary survival skills such as digging, natural food selection and climbing.
Montom is a highly inquisitive young sun bear. Once he stepped into the exercise den he climbed up a climbing structure right away and was very curious about it.
Little by little he ventured around the exercise den. Enrichment is vital for sun bears in our centre. This enrichment helps to provide positive wild behaviour and avoid stress. Montom is very happy here and every day he will get involved with the various enrichment activities. He particularly likes the Aussie dog ball, where he will try to explore how to access the food and honey!
He has spent a great deal of time in the exercise den. Montom’s survival skills have been developing rapidly. Montom continues to do well and has developed new skills during his rehabilitation.
This year, BSBCC has received two orphaned sun bears. Montom is one of them. A victim of sun bear pet trade which has also caused him the loss of his mother. We will continue to help Montom develop the skills needed for his return to the wild. The next step for him is he will be introduced to Susie, a female sub-adult sun bear and will slowly join a big group of bears, then step into the forest enclosure. So stay turned!