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Text by Seng Yen Wah
Photos by Chiew Lin May & Seng Yen Wah
Do you still remember the bear who has a sorrowful face, Soo? Good news, she had just recently finished her quarantine!
A little back story on Soo was that she was sold and purchased at RM350 when she was just a cub in Karamatoi village in Sook Keningau market. Soo was kept as a house pet in Nambayan village in Tambunan, the interior division of Sabah for two years. She was then rescued by Sabah Wildlife Department and sent to BSBCC on the 8th of September 2017.
Listed as Vulnerable by the IUCN, the sun bear is a totally protected species in Sabah under the wildlife enactment 1997. Totally protected means that sun bears are illegal to hunt, be kept or be involved in any activity that could hurt the sun bear. Deforestation, poaching and pet trade are the major threats to sun bear population. There is no doubt that sun bear cubs are cute but the cuteness of a sun bear is not a reason to keep them as a pet. They are a wild animal that belongs to the wild.
The market demand is another reason for encouraging the selling and buying process of the sun bear. The intention of saving a sun bear by purchasing them is an indirect way to encourage the poachers to hunt for more sun bear in the wild. So, please stop buying any wild animal in either legal or illegal means and stop keeping them as a pet. Please take note this important message, if you see a sun bear being sold, you can give a call to Sabah Wildlife Department (+6 012 801 9289) or BSBCC. We could help rescue the bear. Just bear in mind, the purchasing of sun bear will encourage more selling of sun bears. When people keep sun bears as pet, they leave major implications to the bears and it starts with trauma. Trauma may then lead to the stress-related behaviour such as pacing.
During her time in quarantine, she spends more of her time by staying up high. But she does have her favourite enrichment, Aussie Dog Ball. The Aussie dog ball is filled with her favourite food, dog biscuits and honey. Besides that, keepers are trying to introduce her many kinds of enrichment such as live tree branches, happy sacks and much more. But, she seems to like to play at night time where no one is around her. This is the reason we called her The Nocturnal. She is preferably active at night. We saw her improvement within the 30 days quarantine. She appreciates all the foods that we offer and she can be eating so fast.
Soo lost her trust and confidence when she was kept as a pet. She may not leave her trauma behind at the moment, but soon we believe she will make it and back to the forest with her bear friends one day. So, what can we do now? We can give her more care and love to make sure she gains enough trust and confidence back. We hope she can be a real wild bear again in the forest. That is what she wants and what we want to.