Video by Chiew Lin May
"Beyond the bound of joy!"
Logan and Wawa were play-fighting on the tree!
Looks how agile they are!
Today, a group of students from Chinese University Hong Kong visited BSBCC. A presentation on the sun bears and BSBCC were given to the students. After that, they observed the sun bears at the observation platform. Thank you for spending the time in BSBCC with the sun bears. Hope you all enjoy the day and help us to spread the words to Save the Sun Bears! #bsbcc #sunbear #chineseuniversityhongkong #visit
Nature Classroom Penang co-organized two Eco Camps with the Rainforest Discovery Centre (RDC), a field trip based education with two different groups of participants which was set on 25th-29th May 2019 and 1st -5th June 2019. The Eco Camps brought the participants to visit BSBCC on 28th of May and 4th of June for 3 hours where presentations and briefing were given before heading to the observation platforms, and getting some hands-on activity such as making "Stick Paradox" enrichment for the Sun Bears by the end of their sessions. We were very happy to accommodate the very enthused participants about the Sun Bears, wildlife, and its habitat. It is hoped that they will start to care and be able to create awareness among their circles for the ripple effects in spreading information. #SaveSunBear #WildlifeEcoCamp #RDC #BSBCC #EnvironmentalEducation
Text by Nithisha Nair (Intern student, University Putra Malaysia Bintulu Campus)
Photos by Chiew Lin May
As I introduced previously, here continues the story of our three musketeers. Romolina, Logan and Joe are now in fence training to prepare them for the forest enclosure. It took the trio 7 days to pass the fence training inside the training pen.
On the first day, the observation began with Romolina, who immediately makes her way into the training pen. Fruits and honey were laid in a trail leading to a pile in the centre with the intention of luring the cubs out and giving them comfort. Nevertheless, it was pointless, Romolina being the explorer that she is made her way out by herself and explored the cage, ignoring the fruits completely. Upon sniffing the corners of cage, she earned her first zap, but that did not deter her from continuing her exploration, it was not until her second zap that she became wearier and alert. After that it took a lot of effort to get Romolina back into the training pen, she would climb around in the den observing the pen from afar no matter what food we used to lure her out. All things aside, all it took to get her back out was dead wood and she happily made her way out digging and rummaging.
The observation proceeded with Joe on the second day. He had his eye and taste buds stuck on to the trail of honey and fruits towards the centre. When that was finished, he roamed around the cage earning his zaps, which eventually led to him suckling on his paw in the water container. His zaps were an obvious lesson to him though, after a few days in the pen Joe was smart enough to claw his food away from the hot wire very slowly and carefully. He showed amazing progress and seemed to be the best out of the trio.
On the third day it was Logan’s turn to train. He was nothing short of Joe in following the trail, he licked every bit of honey left on the ground with none to spare. But once he got zapped, he was the hardest to get back into the training pen. Eventually with help he was able to come back out and learn to claw food away from the wire.
After the three were used to the training pen and was able to explore on their own, they were put in the training pen together in hopes that they would encourage each other to explore their surroundings, and when that didn’t result in a very positive outlook, they were let into the training pen with their integrated buddies, to know more about integration do read our blog titled ‘Catch Up with Our New Friends’!
Upon being integrated and provided with dead wood, it was clear that the trio were more comfortable in the training pen. They were also seen clawing their food from under the fence, proving that they all passed indoor fence training with flying colours. Thus, it was time for outdoor fence training.
The first day of outdoor fence training, also known as their release to Pen D, Joe was the first to touch ground but got zapped while exploring and was afraid after. With Romolina, she ran up the enclosure but went into the training pen after getting zapped, she then proceeded to explore the area below the ramp. Last but not least, upon exploring Logan got zapped, in a panic he rushed his way to the top of the enclosure completely forgetting about the wires and getting zapped several more times. When he reached the top, he climbed on a tree vocalizing while refusing to come down.
The trio remained at the bottom of the enclosure exploring and occasionally pacing. That was until Wawa, another one of our bears were integrated with the cubs in the enclosure, she managed to guide Logan to the top of the enclosure, and eventually Romolina followed. After that the two were more than comfortable to remain at the top, exploring, digging, climbing, playing with the water from the sprinklers and sun bathing, they even refused to go back home for two nights! Joe was a tough shell to crack, while the two was living their best lives in the enclosure, Joe remained suckling and staying at the ramp.
No amount of integration was able to bring Joe up, eventually we decided to try a new tactic, as soon as he set foot on the ramp, we closed the guillotine door so he would not run back in, and then we encouraged him to explore with treats thrown on the grass. It worked! With two days of that, he eventually made his way up the forest enclosure, and once again with the help of our amazing teacher, Wawa, Joe was guided to the top, on his 13th day with outdoor fence training he was finally able to properly explore the enclosure and we could not be happier!
Fence training may seem extreme, in some cases even cruel, but in our case, it is vital and completely necessary to ensure that our bears do not escape once they are released to our forest enclosure. And as we all know; the forest enclosure release is an important step towards their journey in being released to the wild! The voltage of our fence is always monitored and ensured not to be harmful to our sun bears.
So here continues the journey of our trio towards their happy ever after!
Today on 1st of June 2019, Dr. Wong Siew Te personally led a group of student from Brighton Grammar School, Australia to experience the life at BSBCC. The visit itself filled with activities such as talk from Dr. Wong himself, guided tour, sun bear explorer activity at the platform and also enrichments making and giving the enrichments to the bears. Thanks for the visit and also for adopting Mary the Sun Bear!
Video by Chiew Lin May
Without the BSBCC, many captive sun bears would still live in small cages without HOPE;
Without the BSBCC many people in the world still would not know there are a bear species called the sun bear - Dr. Wong Siew Te
Please respect, protect and give sun bear a voice they deserve!
25th and 26th May 2019 marks the day where the "Wildlife Conservation and Awareness Nurture from Young" has been held at Kompleks Asia City, Kota Kinabalu, Sabah! Main organizer: Pusat Perkembangan Minda Bijak Participating organizations: BSBCC, DGFC, eRobotclub, MamilinDreamHouse party, Robotics Kids Lab, Kompleks Asia City, KK La Salle Alumni Apart from exhibition booths, Robotic Presentation were being showcased to the public. There were lots of activities especially for the kids such as colouring competition and mental arithmetic competition, while all visitors were invited to hear the talks on the topics around Wildlife Conservation by Scientific Officer of DGFC Ms Leona Wai, Universiti Malaysia Sabah's lecturer Dr Rafiq Idris, BSBCC's CEO and Founder Dr. Wong Siew Te, and Director of DGFC Dr Benoit Goossens. It is vital for our young generations to have the awareness in order to protect our wildlife. It is so that they will be able to care and start to take action for the survival of our wildlife without waiting for them to be at brink of extinction. Let's us all be a hero in protecting the wildlife! #awarenessprogramme #BSBCC #DGFC
Text By Mandy Lee
Photos By Chiew Lin May & Seng Yen Wah
Hi I’m Mandy Lee from Taiwan. I am 36 years old and I am a freelance English tutor/translator.
Wildlife and traveling have always been my greatest passions. This is my second time visiting/volunteering in Sabah, but the very first time volunteering in BSBCC.
Before this project, I didn’t really have a chance to spend enough time understanding sun bears behaviours though back in 2014 I was with APE Malaysia creating some enrichment for the sun bears in Laos Zoo. Back then, all I knew was they love honey and they are relatively shy.
A fortnight has gone really fast. For my first week, I was assigned doing husbandry works and feeding the bears in different pens in the mornings; making enrichment for the bears and collecting materials for enrichment activities in the afternoons. As for my second week, my tasks mainly are preparing foods for the bears in the mornings and making enrichment for the bears in the afternoons. I found all these works interesting because when cleaning the night dens I was given a chance to observe their faeces and the scatters of enrichment. Through putting these little pieces of information together, I tried to picture what the bears probably had done the previous night. When preparing the foods for the “babies” (Forgive me if I started calling them babies because I’ve grown to love them more and more each day), I was also given a chance to understand their daily diet – carrots and leafy veggies are good for them not only because they are full of good nutrients but also because the fibres serve dental cleaning purpose.
There is never a dull moment. One of my favourite routines of each day is going out collecting materials for enrichment activities in the afternoon – we collected banana leaves, green mangoes, coconuts and branches, brought them back to the bear house and made enrichment props. Since the bears are the experts of smelling, sometimes we put different spice powders on the branches or we hid apple, banana pieces and peanut butter in parcels made with bamboos or cardboards to stimulate their ability forage for foods. Sometimes we went into the woods looking for termite nests and gave them to the bears as well because invertebrate is also one of the main sources of food for the bears in the wild. Watching the bears digging the termite nests looking for termites, using their claws to eat the foods or simply just lying there chilling out always put a smile on my face J
There are many wonderful things volunteering in BSBCC. To name a few, first is surely the professional team of BSBCC and my dear coordinator, Sumira. The staff and officers are so caring and lovely. They took me in as part of the big family right at the beginning; I didn’t even have time to be nervous about a new environment. Whenever I had questions, they were always there patiently for me. The second wonderful bit is definitely getting up early in the morning sitting in the outdoor kitchen enjoying my morning cup while watching the sunrise and listening birds chirping at volunteer accommodation. Being in an outdoor symphony concert every morning, what more could one ask for in life?
Last but not least, the weekly volunteer talk with Dr. Wong Siew Te will also be one of the many unforgettable moments in my life, for my past volunteering experiences, I never had a chance to have a deep conversation to the founder or the head of any animal conservation centre. Dr. Wong is charismatic and also very patient and down to earth. I remember the first talk with Dr. Wong, I was asking him that for me as an individual and a person with no zoology background, how could I raise public awareness of wildlife wellbeing and spread the words of the importance of conservation to people surround me. He was also curious about why I have been volunteering in animal conservation so many times as an Asian. I was getting quite emotional when he started explaining to me patiently and provided me some of his experiences hopefully this could help me to spread the words for the voiceless ones (the bears and other animals).
I would like to quote Dr. Wong’s words at our first volunteer talk to end this dairy.
“Getting emotional is a good thing, because that means you care for something.”
I really care about wildlife wellbeing and I shall do my part as an individual to speak for them.
Terima Kasih gila to all my Cikgu in BSBCC.
Text by Milla Milanovic
Photos by Chiew Lin May
My name is Milla Milanovic, I’m 18 years old and I’m from Sweden. I study animal care and I’m now in my final year of my 3 years of education. Thanks to my school I got the opportunity to come to Borneo to do my internship/volunteering at Bornean Sunbear Conservation Center. Before I came here I had never been to Asia before and I didn’t know a lot about Borneo or the sun bears so I was not sure what to expect. I knew that the weather here was very different from the weather in Sweden. I knew that it could get very warm and humid here but I was still surprised and I don’t really think you can prepare yourself.
Volunteering at BSBCC is very sweaty and a lot of hard work but also very fun. The routines that we did on a daily basis were things like cleaning cages in bear house 1 & 2, feeding the bears and of course making enrichment which is something that is considered really important here. Enrichment is something that you make for animals to stimulate their minds and so they can perform their natural behavior.
The enrichment that we usually did could be, for example sticks that we tied together and then put a bit of peanut butter between the sticks. If the animals don’t get to do their natural behaviors then they will easily get depressed, aggressive but first of all they will get stressed and then they can evolve stereotypical behaviors like pacing, which mean the animal is walking back and forth on the same place. Stereotypical behaviors means the animal is performing unnatural behaviors. By making different kind of enrichment every day and letting the sun bears to be in their big enclosures, helps the sun bears to do their natural behaviors like using their claws to rip things and to climb, taste and to smell and search for food. That is also one reason why the bear keepers here throw and spread out the food, which consist of different kind of fruits and vegetable.
These five past weeks have been incredible fun and educational, and I have learned so much and it have been fun to getting to know all of the 46 bears and there different personalities, and you can even see that they all have different favorite foods. These past weeks went by so fast but that only means that I have had a good time. I am so grateful that I got this opportunity to volunteer at BSBCC and to work with all of the nice and friendly bear keepers. Thank you for these five past weeks and I hope I can be able to come back in the future.
Every year on the 16th of May, BSBCC celebrate Sun Bear Day to raise awareness toward the conservation of the vulnerable sun bear. This year, as the 3rd years of celebrations, the Sun Bear Day was celebrated with the slogan ‘End Illegal Hunting’ as the theme. Illegal hunting has been identified as one of the major cause of decline in sun bear population, thus leaving them as Vulnerable in the IUCN Redlist; Sun Bear Day is a very good approach to attract more people especially the local to join and support us to protect this priceless treasure. As for the celebration, it was indeed a very joyful celebration, with various activities incorporated with the main purpose to spread education and supporting the conservation cause for the sun bears. Several local primary schools had been invited to join our Sun Bear Explorace, a race for the children to compete healthily among each other as they gather information and learn more about the sun bear. They also involve in a short drama competition with the theme related to end illegal hunting; a platform to improve their understanding about the plight of the sun bear and also sharpening their co-curricular skills. Another competition done was the Kahoot Challenge; an online quiz aimed to the secondary students to improve their knowledge on the sun bear. Beside of that, visitors and secondary schools students coming on this day got the opportunity to get involved on a hands on experience to make some of the bears favorite enrichments, essential in helping the sun bears to grasp the skills they need to live in the wild. The visitors also seized the chance to win exclusive lucky draw prizes, getting henna and airbrush tattoos of sun bears and also getting some taste of refreshing various flavoured drinks from Gen.Z booth that helped to promote and support sun bears via the sale of their drinks. And off course, the most handsome sun bear in the world, Sunny the Sun Bear also made his special appearance throughout the event. The Sun Bear Day coincided with the birthday of the Founder and CEO of BSBCC, Dr. Wong Siew Te, who spends more than 20 years of his life to protect and raise awareness for the sun bear. (The sun bears barked in joy and thank you Dr. Wong for your relentless and tireless effort for them!) On top of that, the celebration itself got a surprise visit from the Member of Parliament of Sandakan, YB Vivian Wong Shir Yee, who got herself tour guided personally by Dr. Wong Siew Te and also having the chance to interact around with the children and public in BSBCC. (Big thanks to YB Vivian Wong Shir Yee for the visit to BSBCC). We at BSBCC greatly appreciate all those who had joined and cooperated in making this year’s Sun Bear Day a major success. Special thanks to Politeknik Sandakan and Maktab Rendah Sains Mara (MRSM) Sandakan for the volunteers and logistic support; our cooperation will not stop here, we will be looking forward to cooperate again on any upcoming event. To all supporters and visitors, see you all again next year!