Category Archives: Pet

One Green Planet, 2nd January 2014

By Kristina Pepelko 

The sun bear is one of the smallest bear species in the world and also the least known, as their presence is rather hard to document in the wild due to their elusive nature. As a result, their population numbers remain unknown.

Yet, what is no secret is that these animals, like so many others in the world, are under increased threat because of human activity.

Deforestationpoaching, and the demand for traditional Asian medicine such as bear bile and “exotic” foods like bear paw soup have placed sun bears in danger and they are currently listed as “vulnerable” on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List.

According to the IUCN, in just the last 30 years, the sun bear population has dropped off by nearly 30 percent in Southeast Asia, where they now only have the Borneo Rainforest to call home.

Thankfully, there are organizations working to help these little bear like Animals AsiaFree the Bears Fund, and the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre (BSBCC).

As we reported back in early December 2013, the BSBCC recently launched a new campaign called Survival of the Sun Bears to raise awareness about the important role these bears play in the Borneo rainforest ecosystem as well as the threats they face today in hopes to prevent their future extinction.

The BSBCC, located in Sabah, Malaysia, is the world’s only sun bear conservation center and is home to 28 rescued bears.

Just this past month, one of the BSBCC’s residents, a five-year-old male sun bear named Kudat, finally took his first steps in the forest.

Kudat came into BSBCC’s care back in July 2010 after he and a female sun bear named Panda were rescued from a private mini zoo called Victory Mini Zoo in Kampung Perapat, Kudat, Malaysia.

According to BSBCC’s CEO and founder, Wong Siew Te, the two bears were held illegally in a small concrete floor cage and put on display for the public day in and day out without any enrichment. Upon their rescue, they were discovered to be overweight due to improper feeding (they were fed one chicken daily) and Kudat already had a few bald patches present on his fur.

Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre

Soon after Kudat and Panda’s rescue, they were transported to the BSBCC to finally receive the care and kindness they deserved.

Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre

Here, they spent time with other rescued bears, exploring one of the BSBCC’s bear houses…

Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre


…and playing with enrichment toys that staff offered them to help them develop more natural sun bear behavior.


Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre

Then, two years later, after receiving electric fence training, Kudat took his first steps out into the BSBCC’s new forest enclosure!

Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre

He was hesitant to go outdoors at first, sniffing the air near the entrance to his indoor enclosure and pacing around. But, after nearly seven days of training sessions with food laid out on a ramp, he took his first official step out on Dec. 11, 2013.

Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre

In the days after, Kudat began exploring the beautiful forest around him, getting reacquainted with the sounds and smells of a place he once called home during his pre-zoo years.

Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre

The BSBCC writes that he was very curious about his new environment, marveling at all the tall, climbable trees around him.

Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre

In no time, he remembered how to be wild sun bear again — digging at dead wood in search of insects like termites and beetles, and exploring and roaming the forest in peace.

Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre

Today, Kudat is enjoying his new home and his second chance at freedom like never before, reminding us that this is the life that sun bears and other animals truly deserve.


To learn more about the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre and bears like Kudat, visit the organization’s website and Facebook, and be sure to check out the BSBCC’s Survival of the Sun Bears campaign, and spread the word!

Lead image source: Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre


Damai, Sun Bear Cub Diary – Explore in Forest Part VIII

Text and Photos by Chiew Lin May

She belongs in the forest,
not in a cage or as a pet.

She looked at you all as if to say, ‘please help me !! ‘

Damai was famous with  “Mystery of the sun bear at car porch “.  Damai was ended up at a car porch of a housing area in Damai, Kota Kinabalu and until now she is likely to remain a mystery. Damai has been sent to Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre ( BSBCC) on last  year November 5th. We named this female sun bear cub  “Damai”, after the place where she was found. Damai means “peace” in Malay. Now she is 11 months old with her weight is 19.3kg.

” I share this earth with you. “

Sun bears need diverse and healthy rainforest to survive.

Nobody knows how many sun bears remain in the wild. Sun bear is classified as “Vulnerable” on the IUCN Red List.

Please DO NOT poaching for bear parts and capture of sun bear as pet !!

While we are unsure of the exact details of Damai past, we know for certain sun bear cubs were illegally kept as pets. As is the case with so many orphaned sun bear at our Center, their mothers were most likely killed by poachers  as the rainforests around them were cut and cleared  for palm oil or other agriculture. This is really sad our rainforest lost every year. The only habitat on Earth where sun  bears, orangutans, clouded leopards and elephants  all are roam together!! Please help save sun bears and their rainforest home. Together we make the difference !!

Please always help us spread the words for sun bears !!

Mystery of the sun bear at car porch

Sunday November 4, 2012

KOTA KINABALU: How a sun bear cub ended up at a car porch of a house in Damai, a bustling housing area here, is likely to remain a mystery.

Sabah Wildlife Department director Datuk Dr Laurentius Ambu said the three-month-old female cub found by a resident two days ago could have been illegally reared.

“When our officers went back to the place to ask about it the next morning, no one owned up to it,” he said.

Damai is a mere 10-minute drive from here.

Ambu said those found guilty of rearing or possessing protected species such as the Borneon sun bear could face a mandatory jail term between one month and a year.

The presence of the 4kg cub was known when the dog belonging to the house owner Blue Lum, 38, kept barking on Thursday night.

The cub is now at the Lok Kawi zoo. It will be sent to the Sepilok Borneon Sun Bear Conservation Centre.

Another new sun bear rescued by SWD and BSBCC

Text and photos by Siew Te Wong

BSBCC recently received a new rescued pet sun bear cub. Kept in a small cage, this poor bear was first seen by a friend of BSBCC in a remote village call Bongkud near Poring Hot Spring in Ranau Township, central Sabah. He then reported the incident to BSBCC and we filed a report to Sabah Wildlife Department (SWD). A rescue operation was conducted by the Sabah Wildlife Department’s Wildlife Rescue Unit on June 7th.

We name this female cub “Bongkud,” after the name of the village where she was rescued. It was already nightfall on June 19th when Bongkud arrived at the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre. Weighing about 12 kg and with milk teeth attached, we estimated Bongkud about 10 months old. Unlike other sun bears, the coat of Bongkud looks rather dried, meager, and yellowish. I suspected she is suffering from malnutrition, a common problem that we experience from captive sun bear cubs. Her body has few patches of old scars that could resulted from unknown wounds and rubbing against small cages.

Bongkud is tame and did not show any sign of aggression since she arrived at the centre. Her mellow behavior could mean one thing- she was captured from the wild at a very young age. We still have not received her full report about the confiscation and information about the previous owner so we have no way to tell about her history. We placed her in a temporary cage. A full medical examination and health check will be carried out soon by the SWD’s veterinarian to check for potential illness and assess general health.

The number of rescued sun bear currently house at BSBCC is now reached 27 bears with the arrival of Bongkud. We hope we could provide a good and safe halfway house for her at the same time plans for reintroduction is underway. The task is never easy since the first day we started the project. However, with your help and support, we are determine to give these rescued sun bears a better home!  


Bongkud's fur appear to be quit yellow and less black Bongkud is curios on the tired that we give her as toy in her cage.


Bongkud is curios on the tired that we give her as toy in her cage.


Eastbourne resident fundraises for Jonny the sunbear


Eastbourne resident fundraises for Jonny the sunbear



 A Lower Hutt woman was so moved by the plight of an Indonesian sun bear she’s started a fundraising campaign to build it a new enclosure.


Small steps: Carol Gorham of Lowry Bay hopes Lower Hutt schools and residents will get behind her campaign to help build a new enclosure for Jonny the sun bear.

Carol Gorham has never seen Jonny the bear in person, but conservationist friends emailed her about his plight, and sent her photos from his home in Seblat near Bengkulu city on Indonesia’s Sumatran island.

”His cage is two metres by one, which is really tiny for him. He can barely stand up in it, and he’s out in the hot sun as well, which is awful,” Mrs Gorham says. Sun bears can reach five foot when standing.

Unfortunately Sumatran jungles, which still house some of the world’s biggest wild animals like tigers, bears and elephants, are seen as easy targets for poachers.

Mrs Gorham’s friends are on the island working to rescue elephants and say the bear was formerly an illegal pet that was confiscated.

He is now being cared for by a veterinarian who works at the Elephant Conservation Centre in Seblat, but with no facilities and no finances to buy proper feed, Jonny’s not being kept in ideal conditions.

”When I read about it it’s really upsetting, and I thought I can try and do something for this one,” she says.

”It annoys me when people say it’s only one bear, that’s not the point.”

Jonny is not a wild bear, so Mrs Gorham’s first thought was that a zoo would be the best place for him. Unfortunately, after making extensive enquiries, all the zoos she called in Indonesia are not able to take him.

”They are very poor, and have poor conditions, and just can’t take another one, so I’m trying to find funding.”

Mrs Gorham says she hopes to raise an initial $3,000 to take care of basic costs for Jonny, like food and medical care and to draw up plans for a suitable enclosure to be built for him. In the long term she would like to raise a total of $10,000 to build the enclosure.

She hopes Lower Hutt schools might take up the cause by learning about Jonny and holding fundraising events.

She is also selling a range of skincare products each week at the Eastbourne market and on TradeMe, with all the profits going to Jonny’s cause.

While Ms Gorham says she’s in this for the long haul and recognises the project may take a couple of years, she says one day there’s the potential for the rescue centre Jonny is living at to be turned into a popular ecotourism attraction, and hopes a new cage for Jonny might help.

The same vet that is caring for Jonny is also looking after a rare Sumatran tiger that was found caught in a trap in the jungle, and had to have both front paws amputated, she says. ”That needs help too, but you’ve got to start somewhere.”

Carol Gorham’s can also be contacted about the fundraising project for Jonny on 589 9050 or [email protected]

– Hutt News

A quick update on Debbie the latest rescued sun bear cub

By WONG Siew Te, CEO and Founder, BSBCC

Debbie the latest rescued sun bear cub was rescued by Sabah Wildlife Department’s Wildlife Rescue Unit on Jan 6th and sent to Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre the following day. Unlike other sun bear cubs we have rescued in the past, Debbie was an aggressive and feisty little baby bear. Her aggressiveness can only mean that she was captured from the wild and keep in captivity for a relatively short period of time. She was still retained her “wildness”, a skill that all wildlife must possess to survive, and not fully “domesticize”. Her aggressiveness also mean that she was suffering from a lot of stress, fear to the new environment, and most of all, lost of her mother.

I went to attend the Sabah Wildlife Conservation Colloquium in Kota Kinabalu from Jan 8th to the 11th. During the three days of absence at BSBCC, I called Wai Pak on the daily basis to keep the latest update about Debbie. Because of her shyness and stress, her appetite was not as good as the rest of the rescued sun bears in the centre. Nonetheless, despite of her lack of interest to eat, she defecated normally. Normal defecation is a sign of good health – eat well, no gastrointestinal infection, and illness. Wai Pak told me that she was sleeping, more like hiding to be accurate, either in the basket or on the tree branch in her den most of the time. When the keeper and volunteers were around to clean the cage, she felt very uncomfortable, stressed, and came down to the ground and started pacing. Pacing is the most common behavior that sun bears do when they are under stress, and feel unsafe or threaten in captivity. She would bark at the keeper if they come too close from where she was. One other thing that Wai Pak told me was her eyes looked so sad. Both Wai Pak and me know what “sad eyes” mean to us after both of us taking care of many orphan sun bear cubs. They missed their mother very much, just like all of us do when we lost our mom or love ones. (sob) 🙁


I went back to BSBCC on the evening of 11th, day before yesterday, and saw what Wai Pak told me on the phone. Debbie was a sad orphan baby bear cub for an obvious reason. Yesterday I decided to spend some time with her. I want to teach her not to fear the new environment at BSBCC. I want her to gain trust on me and our keepers so that she feel safe and protected under our care and our presence, just like Fulung and Mary. I used a method, the only method that I used over the years to calm down a wild angry sun bear in a bear trap – honey!

Debbie responded to honey really well. Her love of honey is typical of how much sun bear resemble Winnie the Pooh bear. In fact, the Malay name of sun bear is Berung Madu, the honey bear. I first used a pole with smear of honey at one end so that the honey can reached her in her basket. She like it and licked it. I repeated this for few time. When she climbed down on the ground, I gave her the honey from the bottle at the same time calling her “Debbie Debbie my girl”. After few sessions of honey exercise, I finally can called her down from her resting basket and she would licked the honey from the honey bottle and from my hand for the first time.

Today I did several sessions of calling and honey feeding. She responded really well. She moved more in her den to explore the new environment and chewed some decayed woods that we gave her. I can tell that she is much more comfortable today than yesterday. She can licked the honey from my hand without hesitation and I keep my all of my fingers and hand intact at the end of the day!   




P/S: The two photos of Debbie was added on Jan 14th. Today she let me touch her little hairy hand!


Sun bear is not a pet (in Chinese)

Original posted at

Text by Jasmine Tan







NO, you cannot keep sun bear as pet! Take 2

Recently I am dealing with several cases of pet sun bear cubs. Among them are Fulung, Bunbun, Mary (we rescued this cub 3 days ago, stay tuned for her story), an unknown sun bear cub in West Malaysia, and this morning a reader from my blog asked me “where can I get one of these bears for myself?”. My answer to him was crystal clear: “No! You cannot get a sun bear for yourself!! It is a serious offense if you do. You will be fined, jailed, and caned if you do! Probably burn in hell too!”

No, no one can keep a sun bear as pet! Absolutely no one!

Sun bear is listed as “vulnerable” in the IUCN Red List of Threaten Animals. They are an endangered species. They are protected species by both national and international laws. In all range countries where sun bears are found, there are local and national wildlife protection laws that prohibit any one from killing, capturing, selling, keeping, harassing, etc., of sun bear. In addition, there are international laws like CITES (Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species) prohibit any illegal trade of sun bears and their parts between countries. In short, YOU CANNOT OWN A SUN BEAR AS PET!

Why can’t you t own a sun bear as pet, although they are small, so cute, and super cuddly?    


1) Protected by Law:  Like I mentioned earlier, they are protected by law no matter where you are! In Malaysia, offenders can be fined up to RM100,000, jailed 5 years or both.

2) Dangerous I: Sun bear is a wild carnivore. They are very strong and equip with large canines and sharp claws that can do a lot of damage. In the wild, they use their strong claws and canines to break termite nests, and bee hives, even the bee hives that are found inside iron wood, one of the hardest wood in the world.

3) Dangerous II: They are wildlife that cannot be tame. The domestication of dogs and cats took thousands of years and generations. If you think you can tame a wild caught sun bear (even if it is a cub), I advise you to think again.  

4) Sun bear serve important ecological roles such as seed disperser, ecosystem engineer, forest doctors etc., in the forest ecosystem. By removing a sun bear from the forest to captivity, you eliminate the important roles they will play in the forest.

5) Fuel wildlife market: By buying a sun bear as pet, you fuel (encourage) the wildlife pet trade market. You will encourage more people wanting to keep sun bear as pets. There will be more poachers looking for sun bear cubs in the forest. These poachers often have to kill the mother bears in order to capture her cubs. In addition, there will be more middle man to trade sun bears as it is a lucrative business.

6) Ethically and morally wrong: sun bear is part of the forest ecosystem in SE Asia. They evolve and survive in these forests for the past 5 million years. They have every ethical rights, ecstatic and intrinsic values to be part in the forest ecosystem. Any actions that result the killing, extirpation of the bear from these forests are therefore ethically wrong.

Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre is set up because of many sun bears being kept as pets. (Read more at At first it was fun to have a super cute sun bear in your house. However, as a bear, they have to grow fast and grow strong quickly to face all the challenges to survive. After several months, they grow big, become so strong and aggressive to a point their “owner” (they like to be called as a bear lovers) cannot handle them because they become too dangerous to be a “pet”. Al this point, there are often 3 options happen to the bears: a) make some money from the bears by killing the bears and sell their body parts, b) continue to keep them in small cage, and c) surrender to the authority. Regardless of what options, the life and the faith of the bears are mean to be doomed and worst them doomed. They are in hell!

Read the 3 parts blogs that I wrote few years ago:

 After BSBCC was established 3 years ago, we have rescued 26 caged sun bears. Few days ago one of our volunteer asked me if I was happy to have Mary our latest rescued sun bear cub. I do not know how to answer her. I was not happy at all to see these bears being rescue. How can I possibly be happy if I know their mother was killed, habitat being destroyed, although she was so sweet and cute sucking my finger. I am glad we rescued her and she end up under our care in BSBCC. I can only be glad, not happy, that Mary is here. If you notice, my smiley face has long gone after I set up BSBCC because every day I see these rescued bears in BSBCC. Most of them definitely look happier and are definitely are happier than before. To me, I can only be glad but not happy because I know the sad and sorrow stories behind each and every one of our bears.

Please, do not keep sun bear as pet, if you are mentally normal and warm blooded!

Please, report any unlawful of keeping, killing, and trading of sun bears and its parts to the local authorities!

Please, help us spread the words and raise conservation awareness for this little forgotten bear!

~ Siew Te Wong

The Story of Fulung Part 3


Fulung finally arrived at BSBCC at 10 pm on August 15th after a long 7 hours on the road from Lok Kawi Zoo. He appeared to be healthy and active, but a bit skinny and malnourish by weighing only 7.8 kg. He was considered under weight of a male sun bear cub of his age. His forehead has a patch of scar from rubbing against the bamboo and wooden cage where he used to be kept. All of his canines were not grown and other permanent teeth were not fully grown. All of these signs indicated malnourish and imbalanced diet, a common condition among the most of the captive sun bear cubs we have come across. The malnourishment resulted from the lack of sufficient knowledge on caring infants or cubs and most important lack of bear’s milk to feed the bear infant or cub that is high in protein and fat.

Fulung's condition slowly improve on a daily basis. He is a playful sun bear!

Fulung's condition slowly improve on a daily basis. He is a playful sun bear!

Fulung exploring the new climbing structure in his den.

Fulung exploring the new climbing structure in his den.

Fulung settle down slowly at BSBCC. We place him at a quarantine cage for 30 days to ensure that he is healthy and free from any diseases. During these 30 days he will have no contact with other bears. The first few days he was showing signs of stress, nerves, and fear in the totally new surroundings. He would calm down when we were around to play and to attain him. However, when we were not around, he would cry out and roar loudly to seek people’s attention. We tried our best to stay with him and play with him as much as we could. After several days, his condition improved. He seems to getting more relax and confidence to the new environment and play a lot by himself with the enrichments and toys that we gave him. He did not cry nor roar like before. His appetite greatly improved and also gained weight on a steady pace.

Fulung enjoying his new bed- a hammock, but he destroyed it few hours :( Well, that's what sun bear do best- destroyed!

Fulung enjoying his new bed- a hammock, but he destroyed it few hours 🙁 Well, that's what sun bear do best- destroyed!

Fulung is growing well, very well indeed. He is now 15 kg, almost doubled his weight since he came here almost a month ago. The scar of his head healed and hair slowly growing back. He is very playful and stays active most of the day. He usually plays by himself except when he was taking nap. We hope Fulung will grow healthy and big. Soon we will walk him in the forest.

Fulung eyed on his new bed high up on his den.

Fulung eyed on his new bed high up on his den.

New bed! High on top of his den.

New bed! High on top of his den.

 Fulung slept on his hammock made from towel when he was in his temporary cage.

Fulung slept on his hammock made from towel when he was in his temporary cage.

This is what he did to me when I woke him up!

This is what he did to me when I woke him up!

The story of Fulung – Part 2

Photos credit: Colleen Tan 



Very cute sun bear baby’s photos.

Yes, Fulung the sun bear cub is VERY cute!

NO! You cannot keep a sun bear baby as pet! Please report to the authority if you see any illegal sun bears being kept as pets.


In the next few days, many phone calls and emails were made among BSBCC, Sabah Wildlife Department, Colleen and her boss Md Eleanor Wong. The plan is to rescue Fulung and bring him to BSBCC. Nooh, the owner of Fulung, also came down to Kota Kinabalu the capital of Sabah, to deal with the surrender of the sun bear cub and the paper work needed for such surrender.

On August 10th, a rescue operation was organized by the Wildlife Rescue Unit of the Sabah Wildlife Department. Colleen, Nooh and the Sabah Wildlife Department Veterinarial, Dr Rosa, were in the team. They started their journey from Lok Kawi Zoological Garden near Kota Kinabalu around 10 am to Long Pasia. After a quick lunch at Sipitang, a small cowboy town closest to Long Pasir, the team continued their journey. While at Sipitang, Nooh heard from his brother saying that Fulung nearly die in Long Pasia because Fulung “missed” his owner so much to a point that was not eating any food for 3 days. Nooh’s son who was in Long Pasia told Fulung, “father in KK and fulung eat a bit, a bit :-P. The father in KK always woke up at 4am thinking of Fulung” This was real story I was told !!!

The journey from Kota Kinabalu to Long Pasir took about 6 hours on bad dirt road that was bumpy and slow.

The journey from Kota Kinabalu to Long Pasir took about 6 hours on bad dirt road that was bumpy and slow.

The team arrived at Long Pasia around 5.30 pm, Coleen witnessed the entire process. According to Coleen, it was “so touching……..kind of feeling, Fulung & Nooh. I don’t believe that happen to a bear and a man until I saw in real when Nooh took and hug Fulung at the little house in the paddy field & walk together, end in the trans-location cage. Attached photos tell more 🙂 ”

19 Fulung to cage

29 Fulung in cage

32 Goodbye Fulung1

After a quick rest at Nooh’s homestay for hot coffee and chit chat, the rescue team and Coleen left Long Pasia around 8 pm. Nooh said good bye to Fulung and told Fulung to be a good bear when he moved to the new place soon. There will be a new owner taking care of him. The rescue team rested at Sipitang town at 11.45 pm. Fulung has 2 pack soya drink. Finally Fulung and the rescue team reached Lok Kawi Zoo at 2 am where he stayed for few days to do some medical check up and observation before he was sent to BSBCC.

Nooh say goodbye to Fulung

Nooh say goodbye to Fulung





To be continue…

Stay tuned!