Text by Gloria Ganang and photos by BSBCC team.
The BSBCC is very fortunate to have volunteers from the Oakland Zoo, Oakland, California helping us in the process of building up the centre. They arrived on the 17th July 2012. They planned 7 days of their stay in Sabah at the BSBCC helping us doing husbandry works and enrichment for our bears, maintenance works, and research as well.
The volunteers comprise of 17 people of the age 15-19 years old and led by 2 group leaders, Melinda Seivert and Stacey Smith. We are also lucky to have Manuel as their tour guide who had worked hard together with the group at the centre. Each volunteers had experiences working in the zoo for at least a year. Sun bears are one of the animal species they have in their zoo. This was their first trip to Borneo, therefore they were very excited for their activities ahead. The group was given an introduction talk by our project manager, Wai Pak on their first day. It was followed by a tour around the centre. Later in the evening they helped us do a final clearing of construction bits and pieces around our newly constructed bridge and platform. The next 5 days, the teens was divided into groups and did various tasks of the centre’s improvement. They did husbandry works which include renumbering guillotine doors at bear house, repainting rusted cage bars and collecting dried leaves for bear enrichment. They also cleared leaves and branches around enclosure fences, cleaned hot wire along enclosure, piled up reusable wood materials, greased bolts on bridges outside enclosure fences, cleaned drainage and covered drain area with gravel. The group also made new enrichment for our bears which include 4 fire hose hammocks and 5
They also did a research on public knowledge of sun bears by interviewing visitors around Sepilok.
Wong (BSBCC founder and CEO) gave a brief lecture about sun bear ecology before the group get to experience the tropical rainforest adjacent to the centre. We traced animal footprints such as wild boar and mouse deer and bear claw marks on tree barks, saw some species of lizards, birds and insects. We also saw plenty of cicada and termite nests. The volunteers were fascinated with the different kind of living organisms in the rainforest. However, the attention went most to the all time famous leaches! Everyone helped each other making sure there were no leaches on them.
The group spent their last day watching our exclusive video of “Big Dreams Little Bears”. We would like to thank the group for their contribution to the centre. It was such a wonderful and enjoyable experience and we definitely learned a lot from them! Thanks for sharing your time, ideas, and laughers with us. Looking forward for another group to visit! Hugs and kisses from BSBCC team!