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Text by Ivy Quirinus Chong
Photos by Jacquelyn Jill Jepiuh
I was elated when I received the email from Bear Care Officer, Pradeep, mentioning that they are happy to accept my volunteer application. Since then, I just couldn’t wait till the day I arrive at BSBCC to start the volunteering program. Starting from Day 1, I got paired up with my buddy, Azwie, who was there to help me where I needed help as well as answer all the questions I have about the bears. I even got tips from Azwie on how to identify the bears by their unique chest marks and behaviour (like Linggam with his long limbs or Panda that do not have a significant chest mark!).
Every day passed by fleetingly during the 2 weeks I was there! I got the opportunity to experience the whole operation of taking care and rehabilitating the sun bears. Mornings always started with physical work like feeding, cleaning of cages, and fence checking while the afternoon was mostly focused on building all sorts of enrichments and other housekeeping activities (Remember to wear longs socks if you are someone who squirms whenever you see those blood sucking invertebrates!). Through all these, the staff were always there to liven the day and I couldn’t be more grateful for that because they made every day of volunteering fun! I also have to say my heartful thanks to Dr. Boon for the unforgettable thrill of having an up-close view of the magnificent bears through the medical examination of Kudat (who surely is a heavy bear to carry!), despite the tight schedule.
Moreover, I also got to know the backstory of a few bears here, some were truly heart-breaking to hear (like the story of Betong ☹) because the welfare of these bears was very much neglected while in captivity by previous owners buuutt sad no more, as the short yet well-informing presentation about sun bears and BSBCC by Pradeep as well the sessions with Dr. Wong will make you feel delighted for the bears as they now are in great hands! The information and answers I gotten from Dr.Wong and the team has certainly opened a whole new perspective in me regarding wildlife conservation. It instilled in me that we should just let the wild be wild!
So, if you are someone who has an enthusiasm for conservation and the environment, I highly recommend a volunteer placement at BSBCC. You’ll surely leave with greater awareness about wildlife conservation and a lasting desire to contribute more or even come again to volunteer here in the future!