Category Archives: Phin

Integration of Sun Bears

Text by Maria Nikas (Volunteer)
Photos by Chiew Lin May

Integration is utilized to accustom bears to other bears in preparation for release into enclosures on site at BSBCC. The integration process is vital as Sun Bears are usually solitary animals and each step is very important to ensure the bears are compatible and don’t potentially pose a risk to each other.

The bears must be of a similar size, age and weight to assist in a successful integration, it also helps as bears learn different skills from each other. Having all arrived at BSBCC from different circumstances and backgrounds they will have differing strengths and weaknesses, this can be used to help other bears develop.

Integration is a long process, with the bears health and safety one of the most important aspects of the overall process. It takes many months to have a successful integration. The process starts with the most dominant bear in the group and then works down to each bear on a one on one level. Then the bears are put in small groups to see how the group dynamics work. Each integration session is closely monitored and recorded and every variable is tested to ensure the potential new group of bears are all a good match for each other. Depending on the situation and the group they may be released as a group into the wild.

Integration of Phin and Wan Wan on July, 1st 2015

A 7 years old adult male bear, Phin was found by villagers near the logging camp in Sipitang district, Southwest of Sabah. He was kept as pets.

A 9 years old adult female bear, Wan Wan was used to be in the Lok Kawi Wildlife Zoo before transferred to BSBCC.

This was a segregated integration. Phin and Wan Wan were in cages next to each other. I observed them for half an hour. There was no physical interaction beyond between the cage. Phin showed considerable interest as soon as Wan Wan entered the cage next door. He sat and sniffed at the door between the cages, also standing at the door sniffing the air. Wan Wan paced the perimeter opposite the door and indicated no interest in Phin.

Phin climbed the cage and was focusing on Wan Wan, watching her constantly as she moved about. Wan Wan sniffed the dry leaf enrichment and the logs that were in the cage as enrichment. When Wan Wan climbed the cage so she was directly opposite Phin she clawed at Phin through the cage, mouthed a lot and then chewed and pulled at the enrichment hammock, shaking it vigorously. It was like an indication of frustration. Phin remained quite calm thoroughout, not reacting adversely to Wan Wan. Phin clawed and mouthed a little.

They both climbed down and paced – Wan Wan the whole cage, Phin just the front. Phin climbed the cage again and once again looking at Wan Wan, this time vocalizing. Wan Wan continued to pace and showed little interest in Phin. Eventually Wan Wan climbed the cage – repeating the behavior from before – mouthing, clawing, shaking and chewing the hammock and some saliva was present as well. This time Phin turned his back on Wan Wan whilst still opposite each other on the mesh.

Overall, from this integration observation I felt Phin displayed an interest in Wan Wan, like a curiousity, wanting to meet Wan Wan. Wan Wan appeared more aggressive and agitated by Phins’ presence. Wan Wan paced a lot more than Phin, spent a considerable amount of time on the opposite side of the cage and less interest overall. This integration will be continue until both of the bears get along.

Five New Bears in One Night

Text by Jocelyn Stokes
Photos by BSBCC Staffs

The truck full of sun bear arrives

Late Monday night, the BSBCC staff waited patiently in the moonlight as a large truck full of bears slowly pulled into the conservation centre’s docking area. It was 10pm on the 10th of March, when five rescued sun bears arrived at the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre from Lok Kawi Zoo, Kota Kinabalu.  The BSBCC is grateful to receive the assistance of the Wildlife Rescue Unit from Sabah Wildlife Department in their efforts to bring these bears to their new home.

Preparing to unload the first new bear

First glimpse of the bear cub, Sunbearo

Wong gives directions for uploading the first bear into the quarantine area.

The bear cub steps out of the small cage and into his new home

Relocating the bears took a lot of muscle power!

Moving the bears into the bear house

The bear crew worked late into the night moving the bears

Some of the bears were move aggressive during the move

Moving bears can be quite tricky!

Thye Lim feeds the bears honey to help reduce stress. Sun Bears ALWAYS love honey!

As the bears barked and rattled their cages, the staff managed to safely unload and transfer the four adult bears and one cub into the centre’s new rehabilitation facilities, all within the course of only 3 hours! Only one bear required sedation for the transfer, which occurred the following day in addition to a health check, revealing that this big, blue-eyed male is in good physical condition.

Ronney, a male adult bear need to sedated for transfer into new home. He has a beautiful blue eyes.

Health checks were carried out before Ronney was placed into new cages.

While observing the freshly-relocated baby sun bear explore its new home, Wong Siew Te, CEO & Founder of the BSBCC, announced that this beautiful young male will be named ‘Sunbearo’ in recognition of all the enabling support that the company Neways has given to the centre.  “Without the generous support of companies like Neways, these bears could not have been given a home here,” Wong said with deep appreciation.

Wong and Sunbearo’s first feeding. Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre mission is to conserve sun bear through improving animal welfare, raising conservation awareness with education, conducting research, and rehabilitating the sun bear cubs like Sunbearo who have the second chance to return his life in the forest!

Sunbearo explores his new home and practices climbing.

In Sabah it is completely illegal to hunt or keep sun bears captive because the Bornean sun bear is a Class I protected species. Although it is illegal to keep sun bears, it is sadly not uncommon and wild sun bear populations continue to be at risk.  Sigalung, Phin, Diana, Ronney and Sunbearo are the names of our well-received new bears. They are all victims of this crime. The BSBCC is grateful for the opportunity to assist them in their plight, however it is necessary to remember why they need our help.

In the midst of all the inherent excitement of receiving 5 new bears, a surprise guest visited the centre as well. Sir David Attenborough, famed naturalist and narrator, was graciously welcomed to the BSBCC with a personal tour from Wong as they observed and discussed the sun bears together. Although the bears being observed in the forest enclosure may not have been especially aware of his presence, Wong the BSBCC staff, were quite pleased to welcome such an honorary guest.

Wonderful! Sir David Attenborough visit our centre and Wong explain about sun bear and BSBCC stories.

There! Sun bear is by far the most arboreal bear in the world!

Wong and Sir David Attenborough shared experiences on sun bears.

Explaining the importance of sun bears in the forest ecosystem.

A little gift to Sir David- a sun bear photo!

More news on the progress of our new arrivals will be coming soon, so stay connected as we embrace our new count of 32 sun bears!