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Text and photos by Chiew Lin May
Julaini, a 4 year old sub adult male, was named after the head welder who constructed the new bear house. Julaini came to the centre from Lok Kawi Wildlife Zoo on the 3rd July 2010. Julaini has a cataract problem, which has resulted in a white dot on his left eye.
Bongkud, a 2 year old sub adult female, was named after the village where she was rescued in Ranau, Sabah. She arrived at the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre (BSBCC) last year on the 19th June 2012.
Julaini started integrating with Bongkud on the 25th February 2013 at 2.44 pm. Once the gate was opened, Julaini went into the next cage where Bongkud was located. Julaini initiated play fighting and started to sniff Bongkud’s body and was very curious about her. They gently touched and sniffed the face and neck of each other using their mouth and nose. Once play-fighting began, both sun bears stood on their hind legs and tried to push each other over with their strong paws. However, Bongkud being a little too playful started to bite Julaini. Julaini bite Bongkud back and he started asserting his dominance by pinning Bongkud on the ground. Before long though, they were rolling, chasing, play fighting and climbing around together. There was no barking or huffing sounds happening when they were play fighting, however, they did bare their claws and canine teeth. After a few minutes together they had already started to accept each other.
There was a good deal of mutual sniffing and playing together. They spent much time playing, chasing and resting. They would often try and guess the other's mood before continuing to play fight!!
Sometimes they continued to play until they were both very tired and then they would rest on the ground. At one point Julaini wanted to rest and eat some fruit but Bongkud still wanted to continue play fighting. However, Julaini made it clear by making some warning sounds that he was not interested in playing first and continued to eat and forage. Bongkud got the message and left Julaini alone. Their play fighting though was mostly very gentle. Both of the sun bears did not show any signs of aggression. At the end of the day the integration was going well and a great success. But, Julaini was definitely showing dominance over Bongkud.
For the rest of their first week together they integrated well and no aggression was noted. After all, Bongkud now has a new friend and playmate and is getting on very well with Julaini!!