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Text by Dr Vicki Stokes
Hi! I am an ecologist from Australia and I have just spent the last 2 weeks volunteering with the BSBCC. I am very impressed with what Siew Te Wong and the centre staff have achieved since the establishment of the centre. The new bear house has been carefully designed with the welfare and enrichment of the bears in mind and the outdoor forest enclosures are fabulous. They provide space for the bears in natural forest habitat, where the bears will develop the survival skills required for their rehabilitation and release back into the wild. There are now 19 bears in care in such a short time of the centre being established. This is real indication of the need for facilities to house and rehabilitate sun bears in Sabah, Malaysia. Thanks to the dedication and commitment of Wong and the centre staff, the sun bears in care now have a future. But there is much more to be done at the centre and so ongoing support is needed.
In my 2 weeks at the centre, I have had an amazing and inspiring time. I would like to thank Wai Pak, David, Daniel and the sun bears (of course) for making me welcome and teaching me all about the centre and the sun bears in care. I have always loved sun bears but spending time with the bears at the centre has made me realize how truly special they are. You can spend hours watching them – climbing and swinging on the tyres and logs (young Ah Lun is getting better at this everyday), lying on their backs chewing on sticks or fresh greens with all four paws holding on (6 month old Toby is adorable when he does this), searching for hidden food items (this is particularly exciting for the newcomers Panda and Kudat), sleeping in their baskets (Om and Susie always look so serene), splashing themselves with water on hot days (I am sure adult male Linggam tries to give me a shower at the same time), or playing and tumbling with each other. They are intelligent and sensitive animals and so enrichment throughout the day is a very important part of their life at the centre. Not only does it stop them getting bored, but it teaches them life skills they need to survive in the wild, such as climbing and searching for and obtaining food. I look forward to returning to the centre in the future and I hope to see many of them doing well out in the forest and maybe even some released to live in the forest permanently. What an exciting day that will be.
Many thanks Wong for the opportunity.