Category Archives: sun bear

Orphaned Bear Cub finds a new Home

Clean Malaysia, 31st March 2016

A rescued sun bear cub plays with a twig at the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre in Sandakan. Photo Credit: BSBCC

The two-month-old sun bear cub was found lifeless and alone in a forest reserve in Pinangah, in Sabah. The forest workers who discovered her called the Sabah Wildlife Department (SWD), an officer of which drove the little bear to the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre (BSBCC) in Sandakan. There, the cub, named Wawa by the officer, is now bouncing back, thanks to round-the-clock care.

Wawa is the 48th rescued sun bear to have arrived at the center, which was founded in Sabah in 2008 with the aim of providing care and rehabilitation programs for bears rescued from poachers and illegal wildlife traffickers. The center also provides a home for orphaned cubs like Wawa as well as for older captive bears that cannot be released back into the wild. The non-profit sports well-equipped facilities and has built spacious enclosures with plenty of leafy roaming grounds for the vivacious bears in its care.

“Our department would like to issue a stern warning to those who continue to poach sun bears and other protected wildlife species.” Baya said.“We will take action against those who are found to be involved in such activities.”

The center’s CEO Wong Siew Te feeds Wawa from a bottle. Photo Credit: BSBCC



Bearing Witness to Life Behind the Scenes

Text and Photos by Lam Jia Ern

Coming from the small town of Sandakan itself, the well-known Nature’s City, I never learned to appreciate the beauty of it when I was younger. I was never an outdoors-y type of girl back then. I used to always hide in the shade, complain about the heat & bugs and never one to get down and dirty. Ever since I left out of the country to pursue my dream in becoming a veterinarian, I slowly began to miss the serenity and tranquillity of being surrounded by Mother Nature and all of its breath-taking scenes. Volunteering at BSBCC gave me the opportunity I needed to reconnect to my roots and truly appreciate what Mother Nature has to offer.

First day on the job, and I was introduced to everyone, with Lester being one of the very first, showing me the ropes. Being the awkwardly shy person that I am, I rarely talk to new acquaintances, making it hard for me to “fit it” and come out of my shell, but the bear house staffs instantly made me feel welcomed and kept pestering me to talk, allowing me to feel as though I was part of their little family. There was never a dull moment whenever I was with them. My 2 weeks there, filled with jokes and laughs, flew by in a blink of an eye. As they say, time flies when you’re having fun, and I most certainly did.

With the one and only Lester

In the short amount of time that I was there, I was full of admiration for the keepers’ dedication towards the bears. Regardless of the time of day or location, they will do whatever in their power to rescue or help a bear in need. Their awe-inspiring devotion became something that I aspire to be like when I enter the workforce.

Pre-lunchtime we-fie with Lin May, Thye Lim, Lester, Koo, Mizuno, Azzry and me

Before getting the experience of working with wild animals, the consequences of keeping them as pets never came to mind, but after being able to witness the heart-wrenching impact it has on the animals, I stand firmly against it. It not only affects them physically, but also psychologically, with many of them showing abnormal/stereotypic behaviours. Keepers try to keep the bears busy by providing them with various enrichments, ranging from stuffing short rubber hoses with peanut butter and dog biscuits to filling up gunnysacks with goodies like a piñata, but it all depends on whether the bears are willing to spend their time on it.

After we collected tree trunks for the cubs (Charlie, Julia, Harith, Koo, Tommy, Ronny, Mizuno, Roger, David and me)

To get the full gist of the behind-the-scenes work it takes to care and rehabilitate a wild animal, you would have to volunteer. You’d never get to witness the amount of blood, sweat and tears, put into the process of rehabilitation to the point where they would be suitable to be released into the wild, by just being a tourist. Volunteering at BSBCC truly made me understand a lot more about sunbears and the work it takes to revive their “inner bear-liness” after living as pets for so long.

Preparing the cages for the arrival of the new bears

I left with 2 weeks of incomparable experiences, unforgettable memories and people of which I am proud to say that I have worked with and to call my friends. During my time there, I managed to catch glimpses of the magical little moments that made all the time, energy and effort worthwhile. If given the chance again, I will jump at the opportunity in a heartbeat. So, thank you to everyone for accepting me into the program and making my time there an experience of a lifetime.

Meet Vicki, a bespectacled bear with surprisingly fair arms and face, and likes painting.

Memorable 14 Days

Text and Photos by Shirley Soh

I’m very blessed to have the opportunity to complete my internship for 14 days at BSBCC, although it is just a short period of time, but every moment that I spent here at BSBCC is so memorable. The cute and cuddly Sun Bear, the green and enchanting forest and not to forget all the kind and friendly staff have make my stay here in BSBCC unforgettable. I’m a 3rd year vet student and the reason that I chose BSBCC as the place for my internship is first, because I have always been having interest in wildlife especially in conservation programs and second, because it is closed to my hometown.

Naziah (left) and me (right) waiting for transport on our first day of work

From the first moment that I saw the Sun Bear I could totally understand why people would catch them and keep them as their pets, their cute and cuddly features make them looked so adorable. Illegal pet trade are the main threats to the Sun Bear population besides habitat loss and illegal poaching.

Feeding time

During my period of internship here at BSBCC our daily activities include fence checking, cleaning, preparation of feed, feeding, and making enrichment for the bears. To be honest, for the first few days the task is quite challenging and tough especially for a small girl like me, but looking at the bright sight I get to have a free workout session every day and as I get used to the daily routine, things became easier and easier. Not to forget all the friendly and funny staff here that help to make my days brighter, for every day is filled with joy and laughter.

Sawing bamboo for the enrichment

This is my first time using the drill

Preparing ice block for the bears

Selfie time!! With the lovely and wonderful staffs

Although I have not learn a lot about the conservation work, but just by being closed to these wonderful creatures are more than enough for me. And yes, 14 days is just too short for an internship/ volunteering period. Lastly, I would like to take this opportunity to thank BSBCC for accepting me here for my internship as well as to all the staff that help me out a lot during my period of internship. I hope that the establishment of this place would create greater awareness and to educate the public about our Bornean Sun Bear.

14-days with amazing people and sun bears

Text and Photos by Naziah binti Muntil

Becoming an intern at BSBCC was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had. Before this, I only had a greater exposure on small animals (cats and dogs) and ruminant; less on wildlife animals. By having an internship here, it’s a great opportunity for me to open my eyes and expose myself to become more familiar how wildlife field is like.

2 weeks into the internship, the other interns and I were given the opportunity to join the Bear Care Unit. I helped the team to prepare the foods for the sun bears thus I was able to learn about their foods (what they eat and what foods that cannot be given to them). I also enjoyed joining outside feeding which we fed the sun bears in the pen.

One of the interesting parts throughout my internship here is doing enrichment for the sun bear. By doing this, it helps sun bear to perform its natural behaviour and designed the surrounding to mimic sun bear’s natural environment.

Bananas in a clump of plants.

Peanut butter and dog biscuits in rubber hose

Peanut butter and dog biscuits in rubber hose

Lastly, I would like to thank Mr Wong Siew Te, Thye Lim, Lin May, and all the bear keepers due to their generosity and time and the knowledge and experiences you all shared with me will be useful as I continue my college career and start the next stage of my life. BSBCC is a place that I will always look back at as the beginning of my inspiration to work with wildlife species and be more active in conservation.

21 days to remember

Text & Photos by Myles Storey


I decided to work as a volunteer at the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre because I am considering wildlife biology as a career and I wanted to gain some experience of working in conservation. Before I arrived, I did not know what to expect. I was afraid that I would not be allowed to do much because of my lack of experience. However, after three weeks of volunteering, I was amazed to have had the chance to work and help out in such a noble organization. The three things I enjoyed most about volunteering at the BSBCC were the environment, the people, and the work that we did.

Although I was born and raised in Sabah, I was never really exposed to our beautiful rainforests. While working with BSBCC, every day, I worked in our rainforests and that was truly enchanting. On top of that, I was lucky enough to see many of the rainforest’s wild inhabitants. Some mornings you could see hornbills soaring the sky and some evenings you could see flying foxes flying around the trees.  I saw semi-wild Orang Utans, Pit Vipers, Squirrels, birds, long-tailed and pig-tailed macaques, and a lot of different kinds of insects. With a passion for wildlife photography, I was in heaven. One day, while searching for damaged termite nests, we stopped by at a small waterfall in the middle of the jungle. It was a fun and memorable moment that I got to experience with some of the keepers.

All the porridges ready to be given to the bears


Me on kitchen duty. Cutting the bananas and separating them for each pen.


Ready to feed the Bears in the outside enclosures! Brought my camera too in case I spot any animals along the way.


And of course, cleaning the cages

?Another aspect of working with BSBCC that I am truly grateful for is the people I got to meet. I had the chance to work with some very passionate, knowledgeable and committed people. All the bear keepers are really friendly and fun to be around, but when it comes to work, they can be very serious and hard working. One time, a tree branch fell and broke the fence of an enclosure with seven bears. When we found out, every single keeper and maintenance worker stopped what they were doing and rushed to the scene. I witnessed a great team working together to solve a major problem. They eventually managed to lure the bears back to the bear house and the issue was resolved the next day. I even got to find out about some of the keepers backgrounds and stories of how they started working with the organization. I gained information that I can hopefully use when trying to get into conservation.

?I have to admit, cleaning the cages was a bit icky sometimes. However, I really enjoyed caring for the bears and making their lives more comfortable. When not cleaning cages, we were preparing fruits and vegetables. In the afternoon, we would make ‘toys’ for the bears for an activity called enrichment. The aim of the activity is to give the bears something to do and to occupy their time. We made bamboo feeders, PVC pipe feeders, hammocks, and used food balls. What is even more exciting, you get to see your creation being appreciated by the bears. It is also interesting to see the different attitudes and behaviours of each bear. Although 3 weeks is really not enough time to form any bonds with the bears, I was able to understand some of their characters and form some attachments to certain bears. On my last day, I was lucky enough to witness, Gutuk (one of the oldest bears), step out of his cage for the first time since they got him 3 years ago. It was a great achievement for him, and I could see the delight on everyone’s face.

Koo, Amin and Roger making PVC pipe feeders as enrichment for the Bears.


Me, Amin, Lester and Roger stopped by a nice waterfall whiles looking for termite nests to give to the Bears.

Me and Amin testing out a hammock that we set up for Panda (a female Sun Bear)

Bjorn Hala – the volunteer house


Sun rise at BSBCC

?I was sad to leave, but happy that I got to contribute in an amazing field and gain experience as an assistant bear keeper. I feel confident to say that this volunteer experience was one of the highlights of my teenage life. I am deeply grateful to the people who made this experience possible and I would definitely recommend anyone who is interested in conservation and wildlife to give this program a go. You won’t be disappointed. Where else are you going to get the opportunity to work with the smallest bears on earth and an extremely committed team in one of the most beautiful rainforest environments?

Getting the Life They Deserve

Text and Photos by Chiew Lin May

Montom (Left) and Susie (Right)

In August BSBCC integrated Montom (a three year old, sub-adult male bear) and Susie (a four year old, adult female bear) into a new group with one adult, male sun bear (Fulung) and four adult, female sun bears (Mary, Debbie, Damai and Ah Bui). Montom showed positive interaction and easily adapted with his new friends. Montom and Fulung enjoyed epic wrestles together. They have spent a great deal of time sniffing, chasing, and rolling on their backs in a very friendly way. Damai is the exception and has shown less interest in play. Montom is a very sociable bear, whereas Susie is an aggressive bear and has displayed stress due to emotional trauma which resulted from her being kept as a pet. ?For the rest of their weeks, they integrated well and began to understand each other better. Debbie is the dominant female bear in this large social group.

Interaction between Montom, Susie with Ah Bui

Ready for integration with other new friends!

The older group was very curious about Montom and Susie.

Interaction between Montom, Susie with Debbie

Interested sniffing from both before Montom put a friendly paw.

Debbie take a rest first after tired of play together all day long!


Interaction between Montom, Susie with Fulung

Both of the bears was discovered a new friendship.

Montom fought back and he try to show that he has strength too!

Interaction between Montom, Susie with Mary

There were pawing, wrestling and chasing in a friendly manner.

?Finally the day came for Montom and Susie to feel the forest floor under their paws again. Although at the beginning it was a new environment for Montom and Susie with having to share the new enclosure with other bears, they are still adjusting themselves and getting along with their new mates. The whole group will be sharing one forest enclosure! It is hard to imagine that both of the bears ever thought their life could change. Susie is still aware surroundings and is having the time of her life. It has been a delight to watch Montom and Susie grow into happy and healthy bears.

Finally free! Montom and Susie will settle into their true home – Forest.

We are using method of combining diffrence treats with encouragement, Montom was the first one began stepped out to the forest followed by Susie.

Montom was curious with this outside door.

Susie was pricking up her ears and looking around alertly.

Montom has been goes outside whenever he desires to participate in whatever adventures lay outside the forest.

Montom has been goes outside whenever he desires to participate in whatever adventures lay outside the forest.

Montom has been goes outside whenever he desires to participate in whatever adventures lay outside the forest.

When Susie first entered BSBCC, she was filled with trauma and fear. Despite her painful early years, she has blossomed into a happy bear and acclimatize herself to new surroundings.

When Susie first entered BSBCC, she was filled with trauma and fear. Despite her painful early years, she has blossomed into a happy bear and acclimatize herself to new surroundings.

When Susie first entered BSBCC, she was filled with trauma and fear. Despite her painful early years, she has blossomed into a happy bear and acclimatize herself to new surroundings.

Montom and Susie spent most of thier time wandering about new forest, digging up termites and grubs and foraging, just like they would have in the wild.

Montom and Susie spent most of thier time wandering about new forest, digging up termites and grubs and foraging, just like they would have in the wild.

Montom and Susie spent most of thier time wandering about new forest, digging up termites and grubs and foraging, just like they would have in the wild.

Susie enjoys the freedom to live and explore the forest with companions.

For now they are sharing the forest enclosure with a three years old female adult sun bear, Damai.

Thankfully Montom and Susie are growing stronger and are progressing well. Their natural ability gives hope to our team that in the future they will learn all the skills they need to return to their natural habitat. From being rescued to their time in quarantine to forming relationships with other bears to stepping out into the forest enclosure, giving Montom and Susie a new journey in life. Sun bear rehabilitation is a long process. It changes many sun bears’ lives. Thank you for supporting our work to help Montom, Susie and many orphaned sun bears. Let’s make second chances for them to be free sun bears in the wild.

Tan-Tan’s Enthusiastic and Playful Nature in the Forest

Text and Photos by Chiew Lin May

                                 Tan-Tan making her way through the forest

During the walk in forest, Tan-Tan interacts with the natural environment by experiencing different sights, smells and sounds. She also comes into contact with a variety of trees, plants and animals. As the youngest sun bear cub at the Centre, she is quite a character with a strong sense of humor.

Soon Tan-Tan is going to be 5 months old, she is growing fast!

She is small but she is an incredibly great climber. She really is an arboreal little bear. Tan-Tan loves to climb. There is no limit to how high she will climb. She is skilled at climbing high in the canopy, eating wild food and taking a nap on trees. Tan-Tan has used a large amount of effort in search of invertebrate food items to meet her energy requirements.

Tan-Tan immediately explore her new home by climbing the trees


Tan-Tan climbs her FIRST tree!

Tan-Tan was given the chance to experience one of life’s simple pleasures

This is what pure joy looks like!!

A young and active bear full of enthusiasm


Truly amazing – she is well adapt for arboreal living and is excellent climber that                                                               love spending time in trees.

She likes to spend much of her time top of the tree canopy

She tends to climb high to find her preferred foods

Finally learning what is means to be free in forest

Midday nap…

A quick snooze after tired of foraging

Tan-Tan surprised us and broke the record that at only 4 months old she was able to build her first tree nest at 8 meters off the ground! The nest is built entirely from green leaves and branches, but it is not completely done. We observed that she tried to test and sit on the comfortable nest. She took a nap and laid back in her newly built nest. It was great to see that Tan-Tan still has the instinct to build a nest. She will surely develop the nest-building skill.

Being the youngest bear at the Centre, she shows a great skills at climbing                                                               tree and nest building !

Sun bears are omnivorous and she will eat anything edible that she can find in the forest. Beetles, termites and other forest insects are some of the sun bears’ favorite food sources. A sun bear’s sense of smell is tremendous, and because of this it enables Tan-Tan to locate where the insects are! Tan-Tan eats insects and uses her powerful small claws to break into decayed woods to get easy access to them. She has a long, narrow tongue which is perfectly suited for getting at honey and insects inside trees.

She loves digging decayed wood keep her busy all the time

She is digging for termites and sniffing out bees nests

Tan-Tan spend every walking moment digging, puliing, tearing at everything –                                                           just like a wild bear

She stick her long tongue out after wake up from a long nap

One special thing we observed from Tan-Tan during a forest walk was when she was digging soil from the trees, she vocalized by making a suckle sound. Sun bear cubs will suckle to seek comfort. If Tan-Tan’s mother was around, she would nurse Tan-Tan. Tan-Tan probably thought her mother was inside the tree hollow or den. We will never know exactly what happened, but we do know her mother would have been unlikely to abandon her cub so easily. Mothers teach their cubs everything they need to know in the forest including what foods they can eat, how to avoid predators, resting in the same tree, travelling with her and how to build a sleeping nest. All are must needed skills for Tan-Tan to survive in the wild.

Female sun bears den in the hollowed tree trunk or cavities of huge trees in the forest when they give birth and nurse their baby

Sleepy face….

Tan-Tan is happy, healthy and enjoys her free life at BSBCC. It is good that Tan-Tan still has her natural instinct behavior which we can all learn from her. As Tan-Tan becomes a skilled climber, nest builder and forager, we hope she will be a likely candidate to release into the wild. She deserves better, we need to do all we can to help her thrive!

Tan-Tan, enjoying the true forest!!

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.


Great Experience at BSBCC

Hi, my name is Kelvin Chee from Universiti Malaysia Terengganu (UMT). I just finish my study in Conservation & Management of Biodiversity and internship is a part of the requirement for my course. I’m feeling very lucky because can get a placement in BSBCC as many people apply their internship here as well.

This is the first time I visit to Borneo and finally I am here in Sabah!

Still remember upon arrival, the first staff I met was Nick. The funny thing was I do not know whether he can speak mandarin or not, so we just use English to chat. After reached office, only then I know he is a Chinese that can speak in mandarin too. And we just have a week to be friend as he went to further study in France later.

The first day I start to work in the bear house, Thye Lim as my supervisor run an induction to me and I still remember the words that he told me: Don’t think yourself is an intern student, but think yourself as a staff so you motivating yourself to learn and work hard and mix around with the staff. That’s why I start to follow their high pace working schedule on the second day. But that was really amazing because I learnt a lot of stuff especially how to work in a team and time management.

There are many stories to tell but I think I would like to choose some to say here. First what I thought intern here was just joining some outreach program or doing some field work. I don’t even know that intern need to wash the cages everyday! What terrifying is when you working in the kitchen preparing foods for the bears! Preparing the fruits but you can’t eat it under the hot weather and you are in hungry condition. What I mean is you can just easily get hungry during that time. And that smell of sweet corn and sweet potato will make you even hungry! Sometimes I will be duty in the kitchen for the whole week, and that particular week for sure I will buy some fruits from the market to release my tension! Besides that, the time when we making enrichments were really enjoying.  They always make laugh on me when taking bamboo from outside. There is a time when me alone taking the bamboo from the outside of the main gate to the bear house, and it was really harsh to me! As they said this can build my muscles?! Oh…. After two months, it’s really build up my muscle! Wow~ So working in the bear house will definitely train you as fit as possible!

What the saddest thing during the intern was the dead of Bongkud. I remember that was just my second week in here. This is the first time my experience where a bear strike by the lightning and died. It is really shock for me even my bonding with Bongkud was still not close on that time but I knew that she was one of the candidates being targeted to be release into the wild as she can make a nest on the tree. At the moment I just felt that Bongkud was a tragedy in her life story.

I am also very lucky because I am able to look and take part during the bears’ annual health check. During that time I was given an opportunity to assist the bear keeper to record the measurement readings and have the chance to stand besides watching the procedure.

I was glad enough because I am been given the opportunity to join the education team to Pitas, Sabah for the outreach programme too. Three days two nights was amazing and is really fun to interact with the students. This was really meaningful to me as I can be a part of the team to deliver the message to the future generation how important conservation and why we save the sun bears. Besides that, the opportunity to meet with the staff from HUTAN and wildlife department is also valuable to me.

The friends that I met during my intern time were so cool! Thye Lim, Lin May, Azzry, Lester, Roger and others make my day during the time. We always make jokes and laugh at each other and went crazy together. But of course, we are very serious when we are working. Sometimes they will also bring me around in Sandakan, eat and play. It was really fun and thanks for all kind of the activities had planned.

Lastly, I would like to acknowledge Mr. Wong, founder & CEO of BSBCC for giving me the opportunity to learn here and his advices for me always encouraging me to keep on in the conservation field. Thank you very much!

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!