Little Story about Tan-Tan

Text and Photos by Chiew Lin May

Like many sun bear cubs, Tan –Tan’s mother was believed to be killed by poachers and she was sold as an exotic pet in the remote region of Paitan, Sabah. She was handed to BSBCC on August 5th, 2015 when she was three months old and weighted 4.9kg. She was placed into quarantine.

On August 12th, 2015, Dr. Sandy Ling Choo, a veterinarian from the Sabah Wildlife Department’s Rescue Unit and the BSBCC team performed a general health check. Dr. Sandy sedated Tan –Tan, then measured her weight and brought her to the examination area to make a full assessment of her health status. The assessment included a valuation of her overall health, potential sickness (e.g. signs of distress, ill-health, disease, injury etc.), functioning of the internal organs, pulse, respiration and temperature, then an inspection of her claws and teeth. Blood and hair samples were collected also. The blood test results have shown she is healthy. Today, Tan –Tan weighs 6 kg.

Tan –Tan settled in well and thoroughly enjoyed her new found freedom in the quarantine at BSBCC. For a young cub, a healthy and natural diet is very important. She has a good appetite. She enjoys all kinds of food and milk.

A nutritious diet including fresh fruit, milk and lots of treats

Curious with new food – Papaya

Yummy! Love bananas!

Tan –Tan is everything a cub should be – playful, inquisitive and agile. She was quite tame during the arrival but it is unbelievable the transformation her character has gone through compared to other sun bear cubs that we have received before. She has been pretty wild and she’s showed great skill when climbing the dead wood by hugging the wood. When encountered with strange things, she gradually made her way higher onto the platform and defended herself during the play fight with her care taker. Tan –Tan must be a strong natured little bear!

Tan –Tan is settling into her new dens

By hiding treats around the dens we encourage Tan-Tan to forage

We do our best to make sure Tan-Tan live comfortable, confident and free from fear.

Tan-Tan love hammock and is having a great time

” Way to keep my balance to get the food!”

She was an energetic sun bear and made full use of the structural enrichment in the dens. BSBCC staffs provided many natural enrichment like termite mounds, dried leaves, fresh leaves and dead wood. She was curious and checked it first before playing with or destroying it. She practices her “wild bear skills” every day. All of these activities are learning experiences for her. Tan-Tan can often be observed playing excitedly with the bamboo feeder and Aussie Dog Ball enrichments and spends hours playing with them. She enjoys taking naps on her small platform or in her basket. Slowly, Tan-Tan has put her past behind her and is leaning to be a wild bear again.

Sun bear cub learns how to climb when they are young

Tan-Tan keep busy all the time by digging and excavating dead wood in search of insects.

Yawn!! Showing us a glimpse of the sun bear incredible long tongue!

Food hidden in object up such as Aussie Dog Ball to encourage Tan-Tan to spend time foraging for food

” Seriously, what is inside this gunny sack ? “

Wooden Food Puzzle – ” Smells good!!”

” Let me have a look what is this !”

Lazy position in eating the papaya

Of course, because she is still baby that do require a lot of sleep

Chilling in the water container

In the coming weeks, Tan-Tan will be taken on walks to the adjacent forest reserve. This will encourage Tan-Tan to learn and develop her survival skills for the wild. Tan-Tan has a long way to go through rehabilitation. Tan –Tan is a delightful bear to be around and we are thrilled to have her at our centre. Stay tuned with BSBCC to have follow ups on Tan-Tan’s out to the forest story!

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