Tuesday July 10, 2012
Papa bear’s story
By GRACE CHEN
One man shares his passion for a little-known bear in need of saving.
THE worry in Wong Siew Te’s voice is obvious during our telephone interview. The founder of the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre in Sandakan, Sabah, had walked in to work to find Manis, a 12-year-old sun bear, lying motionless in her cage. According to Wong, no amount of coaxing could make her move.
Papa bear at work: Wong Siew Te, founder of the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre in Sandakan, Sabah, will share his insights about savng this threatened animal at the TEDxKL conference this month. — Photo by Cede Prudente
Manis and Wong go back a long way. He prefers not to divulge details but of what is known, Manis was rescued from a pet owner. To Wong, it does not matter how the owner had treated Manis. Keeping sun bears, or any endangered animal for that matter, is illegal.
“It all boils down to the way they are acquired. The most common way is through the wildlife market. This means someone will have to go into the jungle to hunt for it. In the process, the hunter may have to kill the mother. It’s a vicious circle,” says Wong, 43.
While her living conditions improved tremendously when the centre rescued her, isn’t Manis still a pet in a cage, though?
* For more story in The Star today.