Text by Gloria Ganang and photo by Wong Siew Te
Bongkud, a 1-year-old sun bear arrived at the centre last June. She was named after the village where she was rescued, located in the Ranau district of Sabah. She had yellowish coat and milk teeth when she first arrived. However, Bongkud’s coat has gradually improved (she now has darker coat) and her canine teeth is developing.
Fulung (meaning “forest” in the native Lundayeh language), is 2 years old and came to the centre in August 2010. He is from Long Pasia village in Sipitang district of Sabah. He used to be integrated with Mary and Debbie (both sub adult females). However, Fulung had an injury on his belly and needed to be stitched and separated from his girl pals until his wound heals. It has been 5 months since his separation from the rest.
Bongkud moved in to the cage next to Fulung on the 11th August 2012. Through the expressions of Fulung’s behavior, he couldn’t wait to play with Bongkud.
Finally the day came, when the gates between them was opened. Fulung’s wound looked fantastic and Bongkud is ready for integration with other bears. The gate was opened at 3.10pm yesterday (7thSeptember 2012). Fulung, oftenly being the curious one went into his next cage while Bongkud was still busy suckling her feet and playing with the fire hose inside her basket.
Fulung sensed Bongkud and instantly climbed inside her cage. Bongkud, not realizing Fulung’s presence startled and gave Fulung an alarming bark! Her immediate reaction was moving a step back from Fulung to the other end of her basket. They both starred at each other for a few seconds and Fulung stepped away, sensing that it was not yet the right moment for playtime. He let Bongkud to settle down until he slowly approached her again, gave her a little sniff from his sticky nose and then…….PLAYTIME!
Fulung and Bongkud played for nearly an hour. They chased, rolled over and bit each other. They totally ignored the keepers who were feeding them. Bongkud was the first one to feel exhausted but Fulung couldn’t get enough of the fun of biting and chasing. They continued playing until it was dinner time where both of them went back to their own cages. The gate between them was closed. It was 5pm. The BSBCC team had to sign out and open the gate again the next day. Since this was their first integration, it requires monitoring until we are certain that they are good playmates.
This is a special day for Bongkud. This could be her first contact with another sun bear after a very long time. However, Bongkud has a long way ahead of her in going through rehabilitation until she returns to the wild again.