Category Archives: kuamut

Six Adult Female Sun Bears Exploring their New Forest Enclosure (Pen K)

Text By Leonardo Jainih (Intern Student)
Photo by Chiew Lin May

The primary goal of Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre (BSBCC) is to promote sun bear conservation in Borneo by creating the capacity to rehabilitate and release suitable ex-captive bears back into the wild forest again. In order to achieve this goal, one of BSBCC’s efforts or actions is by allowing the bears to explore and forage the beautiful forest enclosure around them. Building up a forest enclosure is not as simple as just putting up a fence as sun bears love to dig the ground and to climb over the fence. The fence cannot be too close to the tall trees in the habitat or the more adventurous chaps might be able to venture out into the wild. From rehabilitation program, it actually encourage the natural bear behaviour and reintroduce them to the forest environment. For example, they dig to find food such as earthworms, termites, ants and bettles, climbing trees to sleep, search for honeybees and feed on fruits. In August this year, some exciting for the bears (Cerah, Jelita, Susie, Kuamat, Lawa and Manis) to experience await them. They are all adult female sun bears aged from 8 to 9 years old except for Manis (14 years old). The bears had been waiting for their new forest enclosure (Pen K) after they were moved to the second bear house when medical check were conducted on them weeks ago.

This process of releasing the bears to their new forest enclosure start with slowly open up the guillotine door for them to start their new chapter of life. Fruits such as papaya, watermelon, rambutan and honey dew were scattered around the ramp and on the forest floor. Usually, the bears will start sniffing their new environment and surely eats the fruits prepared for them. However, almost all the rescued bears at BSBCC had this one tricky habit which was trying to grab the fruits at the ramp and left at least their hind leg inside the den, as if to say, “I bet you would not close the quillotine door as long as parts of my body is still inside the den”.

Cerah was the first bear to come out from her den and began her journey to the new forest enclosure (Pen K). She was hesitant to go outdoors at first, sniffing the air and fruits near the entrance to her indoor enclosure. However, after nearly a week with food laid out on a ramp, Cerah took her first official step out to the forest.

Cerah is sniffing and peeking out her new home curiously

As expected, it took a while for the bears to venture, but after a few sniffs and a scan through the new forest enclosure as well, they became more curious and anxious. No one said that this was an easy task as there were few bears took about 6 months to finally stepped out from their den and foraging the forest.

Jelita and her friends are eating the fruits and sniffed their environment

Susie and Jelita taking their time to step out to the forest enclosure

Kuamut slowly taking her steps on the ramp

Kuamut carefully climbing down from the ramp to the forest

Susie taking her brave steps exploring the forest

Cerah relaxing and laying down on dead wood during the day

Cerah curiously observing the environment outside perimeter of forest enclosure

Cerah is one of Jelita’s bestfriend and roommate. She is a clever and curious young lady-bear, who tends to welcome new faces with a friendly sniff. Whenever new enrichment activitiy is introduced, Cerah is not one to follow her stomach. Unlike Jelita, Cerah is always curiously to seek out and explore the new toys before finding the food, even if it is one of her favourite treats. That is why Cerah was the first one to come out from her den to the forest enclosure.

Cerah and Jelita digging the soil to look for foods such as ants and termites

Finally, Manis was the last bear among all six bears stepped out from her den and start exploring her new environment with high curiousity. In the end, Manis get to shares her enclosure with five other sun bears (Cerah, Jelita, Susie, Kuamut and Lawa). Despite all of this she equally likes her own space and if she is not in the mood for company, she lets the other females know quickly to leave her alone. It can be concluded that this plan is a successful one as it took only a month for all the bears at Pen K step out to the forest enclosure everyday. In no time, they remembered how to be wild sun bear again by digging at dead wood in search of insects like termites and beetles, and exploring and roaming the forest in peace.

A faraway look in Manis’s eyes in the forest

Manis went back to her den from foraging the forest

Our hope is that one day they will confidently walked out and be ready for the wild forest but this is not an easy task. It really requires a huge amount of resources if it is to be done successfully. Therefore, it is very important to help them to remember how to be bears again so that they can survived in the wild without our help.


Integration Chin with the Adult Female Bear Group

Text and Photos by Chiew Lin May

Chin was rescued from the Tawau district where she was kept at the primary school’s mini zoo. On October 20th, 2014, we relocated Chin to our BSBCC bear house to join a gorgeous group of bears. We started to introduce Chin to other female adult bears so that they can live together. Integrating sun bears is a helpful process through which the bears can develop and learn pertinent skills for survival in the wild.  We hoped the integration would go well.

Chin was introduced to the adult female bears which included Susie, Kuamut, Tokob, Cerah, Jelita and Lawa. Because it would be too overwhelming for Chin to meet all six sun bears at the same time, one by one introduction was started for the first seven days. Through the expressions of Chin’s behaviour, she could not wait to play with other female bears. Five of the female bears were very pleased to have a new playmate, inquisitively sniffing and offering a friendly paw to Chin. Chin is very playful bear! A few months on, they continue to enjoy and learn to understand each other better, and no aggression was noted. They would play chase, climb around and share enrichment with each other. Their friendships blossomed.

Here are couples of photos shows the integration Chin with the other female adult group.


Integration Chin with Cerah

Bears being Bears

Chin (back) was so excited and she like to displayed a “dancing move” to her friends.

Cerah showed dominance over Chin !!


Integration Chin with Jelita

Jelita (front) tried to show Chin (back) that she has the strength too !!

After tired of play, finally Chin can lying down on ground floor to rest.


Integration Chin with Lawa

Lawa (back) started to accept Chin’s (front) presence. Both of them play happily !

Chin (right) sniffed on Lawa (Left) and was very curious.


Integration Chin with Susie


First met with Susie!

All of the strong claws and canines were showed up during the play fight.

Always cheerful Chin!


Integration Chin with Kuamut


Say “Hi” to Kuamut!

Tired from play fight, both had a rest and were gasping for breath.

Taking rest first! They spends the day with chasing, rolling and play fight together without aggression behavior.


However, Tokob did not welcome the newcomer. Tokob’s reaction toward Chin was very strong, growling and barking on a defensive way. Tokob has a very strong sense of curiosity, but maintains her distance around Chin. Tokob is very alert, and demonstrates a bit more dominance than Chin so we will have to be patient while this integration unfolds. We will continue to monitor these two bears until we are certain that they are good playmates and we will keep you updated on their progress!


Integration Chin with Tokob

Chin was climb upside down and aware when Tokob did not show interest on her.


A day with the Sandakan Tzu Chi Buddhist Merit Society children

Text by Gloria Ganang & photo by Dawn Serene Tukalan

It has been a rainy weather in Sandakan these few days. However it was lucky for the kids from the Sandakan Tzu Chi Buddhist Merit Society that they get to spend a sunny day doing fun activities at the BSBCC yesterday (9th Dec 2012). They arrived at 8.20 in the morning all excited and ready to see the sun bears. The kids stood in 4 lines according to their groups when we met them at the Seplilok car park.

Greetings from BSBCC

Introducing “uncle Wong”!

The kids were then divided into 2 groups before we guided them towards the BSBCC platform. Along the way, they were also thought about the importance of  the environment and a little appreciation and practice in reusing materials, such as the “Organic Bridge” which was built out of reclaimed Belian wood a.k.a. Bornean ironwood.

“You’re standing on an organic bridge!”

As we reached the platform, everyone was running everywhere, excited to meet the bears at their enclosure. They were welcomed by one of our bears, Kuamut resting on a log in the enclosure.

Say hi to Kuamut!

For most of the kids, it was their first time seeing a sun bear! Lucky for them that their first sight of a sun bear is in a natural forest and in good condition. Although these bears have unfortunate histories, but they  knew that they will have a much better future.

Next, it is time for  sun bear story with Wai Pak.

The types of bears of the world

Sun bears are meat eaters!

Paying attention to the sun bear story

Later, the kids for told to make “toys” for the sun bears. We had used cardboard, ginger leaves, peanut butter, honey and many kinds of local spices for the kids to spread on their handmade “toys”. This is to encourage the bears to tear the cardboard into pieces to get a taste of the ingredients .

A brief instructions on the process and procedure of
making “toys” for the sun bears.

She definitely wants to create the best toy for the bears!

This place has turned into a toy factory!

The end product!

Well done guys! these are amazing!

After the toy making activity, it was the end of their programme. Before they left, we took the opportunity to thank them for visiting us and made some enrichment for the bears to play with.

Thanks everybody! We’ll see you again next time!