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Text and Photos by Shannon Samuel
My name is Shannon Samuel and I am in my final year of my Zoology degree at Western Sydney University in Australia.
What do you call a once in a life time chance that happens more than once in your life? I call it magical. In July 2017, I had to opportunity to volunteer at the BSBCC for two weeks. This is the second year in a row that I have had the opportunity to volunteer at this amazing centre and the fourth year in a row that I have been able to travel to Malaysia and visit the centre.
The volunteer opportunity is one of the most life changing experiences I have had in my life. I have had made lifelong friends at the centre and call the bear family at the BSBCC my second family, my home away from home. When I go home to Australia I spend most of my time dreaming about what I would be doing if I were in Malaysia at the Sun Bear Centre.
Each year I visit the centre things change, more bears more staff members and new opportunities to explore. Each day of the program when we did the morning or afternoon feeds I loved looking over the forest enclosures and seeing the different bears and the fun and games that they would have. Whether that was Sunbearo and Loki having fun together or Fulung up a tree, each day was different and the more time I spent in the forest the more I was learning.
One of my favourite parts of the working day was enrichment time, some days
we would go and collect materials in nest balls and end up covered in dirt because I would fall as I was having too much fun and I have no balance, other days it would be watching the boys trying to get bamboo down off the tree realising the bamboo that was cut was in fact from the middle of the tree. Each day was different and every enrichment was received differently by the bears at the centre. Some bears enjoyed a challenge while others liked to sit back and relax in the hammocks, it was so much fun learning what each bear preferred.
I have been blessed to be able to have the change to come and volunteer at the centre, my dream since I was a little girl was to make a difference in this world and I hope that with the work at the centre even if I help for a short period of time I hope that I can help the bears and others to make a positive change in this world for the better of all of us.