Category Archives: yearling

Happy Kala and The Forest

Text by Seng Yen Wah
Photos by Chiew Lin May

Kala is a one year old, female bear. She is at BSBCC because her previous owner surrendered her to the Sabah Wildlife Department’s Wildlife Rescue Unit with the intention to save her after they found her on Kalabakan-Sapulut Road near Meliau Basin. Kala got to walk in the forest with a bear keeper when she was still a cub. However, it had been a while since Kala had experienced the forest. Walking a cub is not an easy task. The task becomes harder while the cub is growing up because they can be very hard to control. Now, Kala is growing well. Hence, there is no more need for her to walk with a bear keeper. But this does not mean that she will not go back into the forest anymore.

Fence training is a very important step before the bears can go out to the forest enclosure. This is because the forest enclosure is surrounded with high voltage hot wire. The hot wire is to prevent the bears escaping from the forest enclosure.

In the beginning, we made a food trail for Kala and encouraged her out to the training pen. The training pen was a strange place for her and hence why we prepared lots of food and her favourite, honey, to encourage her. She was doing well. After that we scattered food near the fence and observed how she responded with the hot wire. Unsurprisingly, she was zapped by the hot wire. After she had been zapped, she ran back to her cage and did not going to the training pen anymore. After a few tries, she became alert when she went inside the training pen. She knew that once she was too close and accidently touched the hot wire she would get a zap. Hence, she kept a distance with the hot wire. Besides that, she knows how to avoid being zapped by the hot wire. She was using her claws to grab the food near the fence. When she was able to walk in between the buffer cage and training pen with confidence, this meant that she had passed her fence training.

After fence training, it was time for her to go back to the forest. In order to encourage Kala out to the forest enclosure, we prepared an attractive food trail on a ramp. Once the guillotine door opened, Kala showed her curiosity with the new environment. She sniffed the guillotine door and the ramp first. Then she took a look at the outside and sniffed the forest.

Smells are different here.


When she was trying to grab the food on the ramp, she placed a front leg out and then both front legs touched the ramp. But, her two hind legs were still inside the cage. She was trying so hard to get the food on the ramp. Once she grabbed the food, she brought it inside and ate it in the cage.

Let me think a while. Hmm.. In or Out?


Tasty and juicy fruits on the ramp and that are why I am here.

After days passed, there was a sunny day on the 6th of June. When Kala tried to grab the food on the ramp, the ramp was too slippery and she slipped on to the ground.

I am on the ground.


After she touched the ground, the very first thing she did was explore the environment. She walked and sniffed around the forest enclosure. There were lots of things that attracted her attention, soils, trees that she had not seen for a while. When she saw the trees, she climbed up them.  When she saw soil, she started digging it. There are lots of activities that she can do in the forest enclosure. She spends her days in there.

This is my dream land, the forest.

Tree, I love trees.

What is that on the ground?

I am tearing off a big dead wood.

Here got a big tree.

Yeah, I am climbing up on a tree.

Let me enjoy this beautiful sunlight.

I got a bit sleepy now.

Soil is her favourite enrichment since she was small. She’s smelt, touched and tasted the soil. Even when she feels tired, she lays on the soil and continues to play with it.

This is my soils.

Friends are so important for humans and also for bears. Kala joined a big family with Sunbearo, Loki, Ronnie Girl, Momtom, Susie2 and Damai. They encouraged her when she went to the training pen and also back to the forest as well. And now, Kala can learn survival skills from her friends such as foraging and digging in the forest. They love playing and enjoying the natural environment together. Sometimes they play fight with each other and sometimes they forage together. In the forest Kala learns and plays with her friends and the most important thing is that she is happy.

What are you doing out there, Loki?

I should learn from Susie2 that how she foraging.


Rescue Number One in 2016

Text by Sabine Bresser
?Photos by Sabine Bresser & Chiew Lin May

We were informed by the Sabah Wildlife Department that, on March 11th, 2016 a two months old tiny sun bear cub was spotted in Forest Management Unit (FMU) 16, Pinangah, Telupid District. The cub was caught and brought to the main offices of the unit where it stayed overnight, appearing rather weak and therefore only given water until it was surrendered to the SWD the following day.

The cub was directly sent to the Lok Kawi Wildlife Zoo before being sent to BSBCC on the March 18th. The sun bear cub is a female and was given the name “Wawa” (Rescue Sun Bear No. 48) by the SWD official who drove the bear to Sepilok.

Big Box – Small Bear

First glimpse at the new member of the bear family

Blue eyes Wawa

Wawa head off to quarantine

Upon Wawa’s arrival BSBCC staff took a quick look at the cub to check its condition; and although Wawa was very likely afraid and exhausted after her 6 hours drive from Kota Kinabalu, she was feisty enough to bark at them – not once but three times. Wawa was quickly moved into the quarantine for it to rest and settle in. She is appearing weak and dehydrated.

First look into Wawa’s new home

Here comes our newest and youngest member

Wawa blinked out at us with exhausted and fear, but was brave enough step into her new den and life

Taking a look around her new home

Everything seems to be to Wawa’s liking, so she will rest

Here she can rest, eat, sleep and grow up for now

We will never know what happened to Wawa mother but we do know that mother bear is unlikely to abandon their cub easily and so the BSBCC will take up the challenge to raise  the little bear and teach it all it needs to know for a return to her natural habit once she is an adult sun bear.
The BSBCC would like to emphasize the fact, that keeping sun bears as pets is illegal, hunting sun bears is also illegal. Sun bears are important to the Malayan forests and wildlife, we should all treat them as the treasure they are.

Bright New World for Rescued Sun Bear Cubs – Boboi, Kitud & Tan-Tan

Text and Photos by Chiew Lin May

On the 30th of October 2015 we were pleased to welcome two new rescued sun bears to the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre.

Introducing Boboi (Rescue Sun Bear 45), a one year old juvenile, male sun bear

Kitud (Rescue Sun Bear 46), a one year old juvenile, female sun bear

Both bears were handed over to the Sabah Wildlife Department in Singgaron village, Ranau district. They were both ex-pets. Their names were given to them by their previous owners who surrendered them to authority.

The story reported to the rescue team was that Boboi originally was from Pitas, Sabah and Kitud was originally from Mengkapoh village, Ranau district. Both of them were handed over by people. They were kept together in one cage and were fed with milk, rice and fish.

On the 1st of November 2015, we conducted a health check for Boboi and Kitud. Dr. Pakeeyaraj Nagalingam from the Wildlife Rescue Unit of Sabah’s Wildlife Department performed a general health check. This included an assessment of their overall health, potential sickness, function of the internal organs, and physical condition. Boboi was 15.55kg and Kitud was 12.1kg. The blood test results have shown Boboi and Kitud are healthy.

Boboi undergoes a health check.

Kitud undergoes a health check.

We are glad to report that Boboi and Kitud are showing positive signs of improvement. Kitud is very slow paced when eating and quite well behaved compared to her friend, Boboi, who is a very cheeky and energetic sun bear. He will find ways to enjoy himself. These two bears have a very close bond and can be seen loving to hang out together. They spend their time foraging, exploring, sharing their food, play fighting and climbing together.

On December 15th, 2015 Kitud and Boboi were integrated with Tan-Tan (an eight month old, female sun bear cub). This was a special day for Tan-Tan as it was her first contact with another sun bear after a very long time. They discovered a wonderful new friendship.This allowed them to greatly improve social skills. Tan-Tan seems to become more playful when interacting with Boboi and Kitud. The three sun bear cubs are living together and are sharing one large den. All worked out well with the integration and they did not show any signs of aggression.

Here are some pictures that show how the three sun bear cubs play fight and settling into their new life.



This is what happen once the sliding gate is open…

Boboi, Kitud and Tan-Tan are given different types of enrichment to stimulate and prepare them for life back in the wild. Boboi is always curious, huffing on the new enrichment toys while Kitud and Tan-Tan will normally without hesitation just destroy or play with it. They like to be dirty while enjoying the never ending enrichment and love getting care from our bear care staff. They are relishing in the extra space to play, run and climb. Boboi and Kitud have quickly adjusted to their new surroundings. They get a balanced diet that comprises of milk, vegetables and fruits. They are not choosy when it comes to food and have a good appetite. These three cubs are happy to leave their past lives behind and are learning to be wild bears again.

The sad reality of each rescued sun bear cub at our center is that they came from having lived through a bitter past; usually kept or traded by humans and having been separated from their mother at a very young age. These three little rescued bears are no different. The Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre’s mission is to conserve sun bears through improving animal welfare, raising conservation awareness with education, conducting research, and rehabilitating the sun bears like Boboi, Kitud and Tan-Tan who have a second chance at returning to life in the forest! Sun bears are in grave danger of extinction in the wild and we need to help them as much as we can. Please spread the message that sun bears belong in the wild and should not be kept as pets, no matter what the circumstances.

Sunbearo, Loki and Ronnie Journey to Wild

Text by Koo Wei Chee (BSBCC Intern Student)
Photos by Chiew Lin May

There was a project that I assigned for to upgrade myself to do something more advance besides the regular routine of what volunteers and interns can do and I got myself one, Thye Lim and Lin May gave me a big project to do, the objective is rehabilitate young sun bears Sunbearo, Ronnie 2, and Loki back to the wild.

Sunbearo, a 1 year old a male juvenile, was kept in a Mini Zoo Hot Spring, Tawau, South Eastern of Sabah before he was handed over to the Sabah Wildlife Department and BSBCC.

Loki, a 1 year old female juvenile, was discovered in the backyard of an inn, where she had been illegally kept as a pet for about five months. It was confiscated by the Sabah Wildlife Department and sent to BSBCC on 24th March 2014.

Ronnie 2, a 1 year old female juvenile, has an unknown history but we believe that she was kept as an ex-pet and was sent to the BSBCC on July 15, 2014.

     They had already been integrated and became very good friends, rolling and playing around every day.

    Fence training is a session for the bears to be aware of electric fences. The place where they are trained is in a moderate size indoor enclose den called training pen with 6 lines of electric wires from top to bottom in the inside perimeter. It is a nightmare for them but a very crucial and important stage to let the bears know that they should not touch those wires or else will be zapped in an electricity. One bear is only allowed in the training in one time if the bear was the first time training in the training pen because if there were two or more newly introduced bears in the training pen and one got zapped, it will immediately thought that it was the other bear which made the torture where will result a bear fight. The fence training period depend on the bears’ progress and it may take up to three months for the bears to get used to the training pen or never. Fruits were scattered near the sliding gate to encourage the bears to go into the training pen, fruits were then scattered near the electric fence once they feel confident to enter to the training pen. Each session of fence training is 30 minutes, the keepers and volunteers in charge have to observe carefully and write down in a table quickly of any moments and behaviours of the bears during the fence training session, this is the most tiring part when keeper in charge sometimes have to recall back what has not been written after the training session. A bear is considered pass the fence training is when it can be able to move freely between cage and training pen in normal behaviour without zap be able to avoid the fence. The bears will then be able to proceed to the next training, the forest enclosure training.

It was hard to watched when we saw them got zapped the first time and they barked, becoming very stressful and will start to pace in the furthest dens they can be from the training pen. Sunbearo was the one the which got the most zap, he did not know what to do at one time but to climb up and got even worse to be zapped in the second electric wire, Lester quickly run to switch off the electricity of the training pen, Sunbearo then climbed down and run to the furthest den and started to bark and moaning, he knew the pain, looking at us and keep moaning for doing this to him.

Sunbearo stands up in the training pen and see what’s going on outside while Loki continues foraging in search of foods.

So glad to see the Sunbearo, Loki, and Ronnie are in the training pen at the same time foraging for food.

    Integration sun bear is one of the rehabilitation process in BSBCC. Integration between rescue sun bears is one of the rehabilitation process in BSBCC through which the bears can learn pertinent skills for survival in the wild. There are some facts which needs to evaluate before targeting any two or more sun bears for the integration training to prevent or decrease bear fight possibility: (1) age, size, and weight have to be similar, if they have big difference, a bear would definitely be killed if they fought; (2) the bears have to be healthy. Younger bears and group bears seem to have a high possibility in successful integration because they have less thought, more curious, and have social group experience for the group bears. Before integration process, few pails of water and a fire extinguisher have to be prepared near the integration cage in case of emergency. Integration lasts for one hour, a paper with a list of table, behaviour codes, and remarks was used to write down the behaviours of the bears in any movement during the integration, this is the detail or data which will be the appendix of the research on how those bears react with each other.

Integration Pros and Cons


  • Allow two or more bears to live in the same cage.
  • Save more cages for more rescued bears.
  • Allow bears to be less stressful where it turns out that group bears will have less pacing because they have companions to play with and to promote other positive behaviour.
  • The best enrichment for a bear is another bear


  • Bears are solitary animals, they may think is normal to have another bear as companion, becoming less defensive to wild sun bears, resulting a concern for rehabilitation.

  Sun bears appears to be solitary because their food are scattered all around the forest and they need their own territory to maintain their own food supply, thus for those integrated captive sun bears in the forest enclosure, we need to scatter enough foods all over the area to prevent them for fighting for food supply. Bears and others animal are solitary mainly due to the food shortage issue, in captive condition, foods are always been provided, so we encourage them to stay in a group to promote positive behavior development. Although there is a conflict between the bears natural characteristics and integration, it is used to assist the bears to get along well with each other so that they can be in a single forest enclosure because the main issue is about the centre’s limited number of forest enclosures and dens. Newly rescued captive sun bears need their own space, thus the integration stays an important role for the bear care unit.

 On 22 November 2015, we integrate Sunbearo, Loki and Ronnie with Montom (a 3 years old sub adult male bear) and Susie (a 4 years old adult female bear).

“Come on! Let’s play, what you are waiting for?” says Loki bites Montom’s neck softly to try to pull him to the mini platform.

Montom sniffs Ronnie as a welcome greeting to his place

Sunbearo gave Montom and Susie an alarming growl


   We were surprised that Sunbearo, Ronnie, and Loki had a very fast progress in the integration and fence training with Montom and Susie where they played, foraged, and eat together without aggression. Three weeks after the training, the management team decided to let Sunbearo, Loki, and Ronnie to enter the last stage of training, the enclosure training in forest enclosure.

Forest enclosure training is the practice of the applications given to the sun bears in the previous stages of all training and enrichment such as giving them the second chance to climb, toys to improve their senses of smell, sight, touch and taste, integration training and electric fence training. Before the bears went out to the forest, prepared fruit pieces are placed near the cage or guillotine door to encourage the bears to go out and eat, time by time when the bears are confident with the area, the fruit will then be placed further from the cage to encourage them to go further to the forest. At least two keepers have to take a broom and keep an eye of the bears around the forest enclosure outside perimeter to prevent the bears to climb out from the enclosure because the bears may still not get use to the electric fence and may climb up if they got zapped. The training duration for keepers to watch over is the same as training pen, it may take months to have a success for the bears to touch the ground or even not, but the training is not over as it lasts until the bear can really be able to take care of itself for example searching foods in nature, climbing trees and make nest. This is the last stage for the bears before they can be the candidates to be released back to the wild, thus this training is crucial, giving the bears a second chance to go back to their natural wild habitat in a very large area of natural forest.

Sunbearo, Loki and Ronnie are surprised to see the world outside.

“Hey Loki, I think I’ve found something there, should we try to take a look?” says Ronnie on the ground.

Ronnie in den 10, watching far away to see the world; Loki was too hungry, keep on eating through the way; Sunbearo still don’t seem dare to go out.

 Within two weeks the three bears got their first zap from the electric fence near the dens. They still got zapped because they were introduced to a new environment although they already knew there is electric fence which results an environment shock to them. In the first week, I put their prepared cut fruits near their dens to encourage them to go out and explore the enrichment and environment. When they got used to the area, I then started to put further from the den and deeper to the forest enclosure time by time to encourage them to explore more.

Sunbearo feels more comfortable with the place and starts to explore deeper to the forest

Wow! Loki is eating honey bees, she should be enjoying it to lick some honey on the ram and eat some bees as bonus protein

Ronnie, foraging on the forest floor

Loki was checking the ram to see if there’s any remaining honey left

“What are you doing there, can’t you go away?” said Loki as she was very alert to the movements of the surrounding area when she was foraging

Loki took a quick rest after foraging for so long

Loki wondering around on the A-frame platform build by our volunteers

Sunbearo was wondering how to climb down from the A-frame platform

“Ah! Where’s my food?” said Loki when she saw us but didn’t see any fruits more which we scattered on the forest enclosure

Ronnie was alert to the movements and sound on the surrounding area

  The training on forest enclosure E has some issues not only the bears character and behaviour but also the location itself as it is located near the bear house entrance. Keepers who are not in charge of the training will sometimes do their work outside the bear house which made those sound-sensitive bears to be extra alert, thus whenever there’s a sound, even footsteps of us, the bears which are still not used to it will rush back to their dens.

At 24th December 2015, it was a very special day because guillotine door was ordered to close after the bears had gone outside forest. When the guillotine door was shut down, the bears were in alert and stayed very closed to the door, but after a few minutes, Loki and Ronnie started to do what they did as usual, foraging, eating bugs, ants, and termites. Sunbearo then followed them and went even further, he went to all the areas of the surrounding fence and unluckily got zapped again, and he pulled back but not long and went deep in the forest in search for ants and termites. It was a special day indeed that all the bears start confident explore the environment.

Sunbearo, having his precious coconut on the forest floor

Sunbearo had a coconut found as a reward which we threw inside the forest to encourage the bears to explore more. Oops! Loki (on the right) saw that.

It was the first time ever for a bear to sit on this newly made fire hose hammock, Sunbearo is the one who made the record at 24th December 2015.

Sunbearo was finding his way to climb down from the mini-platform while Loki was having her precious coconut.

Sunbearo finally got his way to climb down after searching for around one minute; Ronnie (on the right) kept on searching and digging for her favorite ants and termites

“What is going on right there?” said Ronnie standing up to explore

Sunbearo had a thought once to climb the tree and he then went to forage again, we were very concern about this because the bears should know how to climb a tree to build a nest in order to be one of the candidates to be released back to the wild.

Loki wants to climb down to join Sunbearo to forage for ants

“My precious coconut water” said Loki drinking up as much as she can

On day (28th December 2015), my supervisor, Thye Lim, had a plan to make some food enrichment to be hanged on trees to encourage them to climb. It is a huge success because Loki finally climbed a tree for the first time in her life and successfully climbed her way to get the fruits as her reward. We were then felt extremely happy that Sunbearo and Ronnie also made their first time climbing a tree on the following day (29th December 2015), not only climbed a tree but several trees in the enclosure.

Loki, first climb !! Sun bear have long and curved claws that help them in climb trees.

Loki climb trees to get at the honey and honey bees in the Pipe Feeder

Sunbearo even decided to climb on the tree to have a better view !

Ronnie playing hide and seek on trees

They find a way to get the tasty food out the bamboo feeder.

Sun bear learns how to climb when they are young.

It was a nice pleasure and glad to see the bears given the second chance to touch the earth for the first time in their whole life. I like to see them exploring the environment, foraging, digging, climbing trees and sometimes stand up to watch further in alert to the surrounding area, these are what bears should do, and I really hope they can have a good progress to become candidates to be released back to 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!!

Sun Bear Cub Kala Deserves a Chance

Text and Photos by Chiew Lin May

Kala is an 8 month old female sun bear cub who was rescued by the Sabah Wildlife Department on January 2015. At the time of her rescue, Kala showed signs of being emaciated, dehydrated and malnourished.

Thanks to the Sabah Wildlife Department, Kala was saved and brought to a new home at BSBCC. Six months later, she has progressed well and developed new skills during her rehabilitation.  Kala’s appetite has come roaring back as well. Her balanced diet consists of a combination of dog milk replacer, fruits, vegetables and porridge. She now weighs 15.95 kg. She is growing bigger and stronger. Kala has a full set of adult teeth. “Sun bear cubs have a period where they grow very fast, typically when they are 5 to 10 months where they can gain 3 to 4 kg each month” –  Wong Siew Te

Chart below shows the growth curve of Kala cub (Updated 17th July 2015). Showing she is healthy and keeps growing gracefully!

The sun bear cub will be offered different types of enrichment to stimulate and prepare her for life back in the wild. Inside Kala’s den, we provide enrichment such as Kong, Aussie Dog Ball, natural habitat enrichment (logs, dead wood, branches, dry leaves, fresh plant and etc.) and manipulation based treats. She’s making full use of the structural enrichments in the den. The big basket with the hammock is her favourite!

On February 26th, 2015 Kala caught her first glimpse of the world outside the forest. She has been exploring every patch of the forest and she is already picking out some favourite spots. Sun bears are opportunistic omnivores. Kala enjoys searching for termites, earthworms, beetle larvae and eating soil. Sun bear’s jaws provide a powerful bite and tear force. Kala will use her teeth to tear into trees to get insects beneath the bark. She is a pro at all speeds and directions of sun bear locomotion! She explores by herself and loves to run or roll about on the forest floor.

Sun bears are very adapt climbers, and cubs especially spend time climbing trees. She shows tremendous improvement in climbing skills, using her well-muscled little body with sharp claws that help her to grip trees during climbing. She can be cheeky when climbing trees. She will try to show us how great it is – a true home for her! Little Kala explores the tree canopy, and then finds a comfy liana or log to rest. Though all the challenges with skills, she keeps up her adventurous and playful behavior.

Here are the photos show Kala in different age and grow. Let look what Kala doing and spending at rainforest.

– 3 months old – (First arrival at BSBCC)

Kala, is the youngest female cub. She was bought by someone in Kalabakan-Sapulut road nearby Maliau Basin with the intention of saving the cub then to be surrended to the Sabah Wildlife Department’s Wildlife Rescue Unit.

Kala was emaciated, dehydrated and malnourished and requires round-the-clock care to help her recovery.

– 4 months old –

We began regularly taking Kala out for walks in the forest on February 26th, 2015.

Kala really loves the nature walks at forest!


– 5 months old –

She loves spend every moment digging, puliing, tearing at everything in her path

When Kala is tired from exploring the forest, she will usually find a favorite place to rest or sleep

She loves to foraging for wild food in the forest

She loves spend every moment digging, puliing, tearing at everything in her path

Kala’s left hind paw

– 6 months old –

Inquisitive nature!

Kala use her sharp canines for tearing trees to get at insects.

Kala use her sharp canines for tearing trees to get at insects.

When Kala is tired from exploring the forest, she will usually find a favorite place to rest or sleep


Sunbath under the sun

She start learning how to climb trees!

Never hesitate to climb till top of the tree canopy!

Her bare soles and long sharp claws make her excellent tree climbers.


– 7 months old –

Kala’s hair grows short black and healthy, making her look very pretty indeed!

When Kala is tired from exploring the forest, she will usually find a favorite place to rest or sleep

She loves spend every moment digging, puliing, tearing at everything in her path

She loves spend every moment digging, puliing, tearing at everything in her path

She loves spend every moment digging, puliing, tearing at everything in her path

Cheeky by the day

More high trees to climb and a chance to behave like the wild bear that she is

Beautiful and adventurous Kala is developing well !

Kala also spends more time exploring the forest

When Kala is tired from exploring the forest, she will usually find a favorite place to rest or sleep

Showing her little long tongue

– 8 months old –

Alert with surrounding smell and sound!

More high trees to climb and a chance to behave like the wild bear that she is

She loves spend every moment digging, puliing, tearing at everything in her path

Kalar’s claw mark on the tree

More high trees to climb and a chance to behave like the wild bear that she is

More high trees to climb and a chance to behave like the wild bear that she is

More high trees to climb and a chance to behave like the wild bear that she is

She enjoys the soil that she gets at the forest

Search for termites time!

She loves spend every moment digging, puliing, tearing at everything in her path

She loves spend every moment digging, puliing, tearing at everything in her path

When Kala is tired from exploring the forest, she will usually find a favorite place to rest or sleep

Peek- a- boo!

When Kala is tired from exploring the forest, she will usually find a favorite place to rest or sleep

Kala definitely has a lot to learn to build her forest skills, confidence and independence.

As a sun bear cub Kala is learning the skills and strength she needs to survive in the wild. Her forest skills continue to improve. Sun bears are magnificent and beautiful creatures in their natural habitat but because of habitat destruction, pet trade and poaching they have been led to decline by at least 30 per cent in the last three decades, they need our help!  Please show your support and help the smallest bear species by adopting Kala and her friends! Your support enables us to care for these orphaned sun bears.


Bee Yin and the Honey Bears!

Text and photo by Ng Bee Yin

Gir-de-Gir-de-Gir-de-Gir-de…. Damai was suckling her arm in front of me and looked at me with her piercingly sharp eye. It seems like she was begging me not to leave her. Though I always smile for her cuteness whenever I see her, but this time, her actions penetrated my heart and triggered a sense of sorrow. I told myself, I should say goodbye to every single bear in the bear house today. With grief, I turned to the other side and looked at Fulung. This male bear was scratching his throat after gulping his meal and did not bother to show a single sadness on my very last day! Probably he is a tough guy who repressed his sadness in front of a pretty girl whom had been preparing his food for the past 30 days. Mary, on the other hand, approached me. She sniffed and put out her paw for me to fondle her. I moved backward refusing to do so. I felt very close to these sun bears. I know their names, their room locations, their enclosures, their cuteness, their history, etc.


I was the most creative chef in the bear house! Vegetable ice blocks can also be very delicious to sun bears. Honey corn ice blocks, inspired by ABJ (Ais Batu Jagung). It is troublesome to cut the corns for the juice. The satisfaction is not just from relishing the taste, but also a visualeuphoria of the colorful ice blocks. With colors from sweet potato, watermelon, pineapple, banana, guava, papaya, corns… It is not really hard to create rainbow in the sun bear’s kitchen. I wish to show some of the nice photos of fruits that I had chopped but I couldn’t find any of them. Chopping fruits is not easy especially when doing it alone. It requires a lot of physical strength. There would be a lot of cuts, blisters on fingers because too much of rubbing against the knife handlebar,and also some bruises on legs when one is preparing the food for the bear because the food are heavy to handle. It does indicate why there are only male staffs in the bear house.


I am not very experienced in doing this. Whenever I was cleaning the cage, I feel like calling my maid to do this for me during my volunteering period here. Hahaha!  I bet my parents will not believe what I had been doing over here. The stains on the cages had to be cleaned all the time to keep the sun bears healthy.


Dried leaves collection was done together with BSBCC ground staff Azzry, Tommy, Mizuno and David. Precautions need to be taken while collecting the leaves because there were a lot of fire ants.  These dried leaves were put into the cages for adding some coziness to the cement floor by keeping it dry and comfortable.Talking about dried leaves, it plays an important role in keeping our bears healthy. In concrete floors, wet floor is a problem, because the bears’ feet are prone to peeling due to hydration. This is exacerbated by the fact that the moist condition is also a breeding ground for infectious fungi and bacteria. Hence, foot problem can be a chronic issue. Furthermore, during hot weather, the heated concrete encourages cracks on foot pads. Besides that, cement floors damages skeletal system, muscle strain, circulatory system, footpad lesions, callus formation and pressure sores. All these can be mitigated by placing dried leaves on the cement floor. I am honored to be part of this sacred job in BSBCC with all the bear house man. I always work with these four guys, though for not a very long time, I get to know some of their habits. Azzry like to say: “Menahan dia…”; Mizuno like to say: “Marah ke? ”, “Rumput” “Pahit! ”, “ Moi… Moi…”. Sometimes I got annoyed because I’m not “marah (angry)” but he kept asking as if I was angry all the time, but later I realized he likes to ask that to most people. I also like to annoy Mizuno by calling him “orang asli (indigenous person) ” just like the way he likes to call me “ah Moi (Chinese girl)” to annoy me. Tommy is the “si lalat (the fly)” which is the name most of the ground staff call him.  David likes to tell stories about him when he was a soldier. His conversation always begins with: “Dulu… Masa saya… (Once when I was….)”


A female sun bear with an unusual sleeping gesture. Ah Bui was sleeping with all her limbs widely open, lying comfortably on her favorite spot in enclosure C.


One fine day, around 4pm, Tompong (the orang utan) paid us a visit at the observation platform. Gloria got excited and took several photos with this semi-wild orang utan. Tompong went into enclosure D and took two corns and one sugar cane. I took a photo with her while she was focused with her scrumptious meal. She knows that there is a lot of food in the enclosures and she came again the next day to make a nest at the platform area. She had been visiting the platform 3 days in a row.


Loki, the latest cub that arrived BSBCC. I am very lucky to witness her arrival. That was the first time I saw a sun bear cub because nobody except for authorized staff is permitted to enter quarantine. Sun bear cubs are pretty much the same like those shown in the videos played at the center, but it was astonishing to see the real one.

We went to collect termite nests for the sun bear’s enrichment and also checked out the waterfall at the far end of the nearby bird trail. The waterfall is very small, pristine environment though. There wasn’t anyone else there, not a single litters sighted, no picnicking groups and no smokes from barbeque. Unfortunately, no fallen termite nests found. I’m not sure why but the locals believed that termite nests cannot be collected if it is not fallen or broken because it will bring bad luck.


I like to be at the platform because I love talking to visitors about the sun bears at BSBCC. Furthermore, I learn more things from other interpreter, especially Mr. Wong, Thye Lim, Lin May and Gloria when I listen to their conversations with the visitors. Besides the information that they provided to the visitors, I like to pay attention and learn some communication skills from them. There were a lot of memories at platform, mainly with the visitors. One of the most unforgettable one was a group of Italians who recorded me speaking and I only realized that after speaking with them for a long time; the two German ladies who took photos with me for no reason; some locals who questioned and couldn’t understand why I was volunteering; Some Chinese tourists who can never control their volume; Those who had given me their name cards, etc. The photos were taken on the very last day of my service at BSBCC. I asked the visitors to take some candid shots with me as a memory. The lady in purple standing with me was my last customer. I asked to take a photo with her because she was my last customer there, she laughed and took some photos with as well.


Shannon Samuel, a friendly girl with sweet smiles that I met at the platform. She is a volunteer at the Sepilok Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre who likes to pay us a visit and watch the sun bears for hours. We got one step closer each and every time we met at the platform. She brought me to see some cute orang utan babies at the nursery, I especially remember Bidu-bidu. Shanon always shares amazing stories of caring for the orang utans which I found really interesting.

8This might be Tompong, the nice orang utan that was visiting the BSBCC observation platform.


To all BSBCC members, warmest thanks for all your kindness and do forgive me if there is any mistake that I’ve done unintentionally. I will remember all of you. Lester Elis and Ronny Jumahat, thank you for keeping me safe from cheeky macaques most of the time. Mizuno Merek Men, Ong Kim(Peter) and Tommy Johnny, thank you for the jokes which enlightened my days at BSBCC. David Tahir, thank you for the guidance and the stories of your history. Leslina Elis and Faironytha Pius, thank you for the friendly treatments and “Crunch ice cream(s)”. Thank you Azzry Dusainyou’re your companion and guidance. Thank you Gloria Ganang for the knowledge that you shared to me. Special thanks to Thye Lim and Lin May for recommending me such a good place to volunteer and for sharing a lot of knowledge with me, besides bringing around Sandakan. Many, many thanks to Wong for providing me the opportunity to contribute to the BSBCC.

10Special thanks again to Wong who enables 6 kilograms of fresh tiger prawns to arrive my hometown Ipoh safely.








Damai- Captured Sun Bear Cub Now In BSBCC

Text by Dawn Tukalan and photo by Tee Thye Lim

The sun bear cub that was found wondering around at someone’s car porch in a residential area at Damai, Kota Kinabalu has been sent to BSBCC on last 5th November 2012 (Monday night). She was reported and captured by the Civil Defense Department, handed to Lok Kawi Zoo and later sent to BSBCC by Sabah Wildlife Department’s Wildlife Rescue Unit.

Baby Damai arrived at BSBCC on 5th Nov 2012, 11pm.
Delivered by Sabah Wildlife Department’s Wildlife Rescue Unit.

For more information about how was baby Damai found, please read the articles posted at newspaper few days ago.
Click the link below:

Man Finds Sun Bear Outside His Home – The Stars

Mystery of The Sun Bear At Car Porch – The Stars

Cub Found Could Be Illegally Reared: Dept – Daily Express

We named this female sun bear cub  “Damai”, after the place where she was found. Damai means “peace” in Malay. Weighing at 5kg, we estimated Damai is about 4 months old. When she arrived, she has a strong smell of pandan (an aromatic tropical plant) attached to her as her transportation cage was filled with pandan leaves.

Although baby Damai looks cute, she is no house pet. Please DO NOT keep sun bear as pet!

Baby Damai was fed with milk formula given by the Sabah Wildlife Department’s veterinarians.


She looks healthy and active as she started climbing and biting the things around her including the BSBCC caregiver.

We will try our best to provide her an ideal environment so that she will be back to the forest in the near future.


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Mary and Debbie’s new pal, Koko.

Text by Gloria Ganang and photo by Siew Te Wong

Koko, a female sun bear yearling has been joining Mary and Debbie (both female sun bear yearlings) for almost a month now. Koko came into the BSBCC earlier this year on the 20th February. She was transferred to Mary and Debbie’s den a month after her arrival which is after her quarantine period. Although it was a new environment for Koko at the beginning to share dens with other bears, she did very well gradually adjusting herself and getting along with her new mates. Koko connected with Debbie almost instantly during their first encounter with each other. Debbie, being the playful one among them is such an essential work out pal for Koko. They would tease, climb around and play chase with each other besides sharing their enrichment toys.

Debbie and Koko – “This toy is mine!”


Debbie and Koko - Claw versus canine!

It took a while for Mary to familiarize with Koko until they finally mingled. Mary is the less playful one. However, Koko would often try to get her attention by giving her quick bites or taps on her back. This encourages Mary to respond back very quickly from the distraction and they usually would end up rolling around and show each other “who’s boss”!

Mary and Koko – “I’m really getting you this time!”

Having an additional member in the group would keep the yearlings equipped with better and fun daily activities. They also keep each other warm during cold nights and rainy days by staying close to each other inside their artificial nest. We hope for the best for these sun bear yearlings throughout their growing period at the centre. Koko, Mary and Debbie are here because they have been confiscated from individuals who took them away from their natural habitat. They might end up growing up in small cages as house pets or even killed for their body parts. Help our sun bears by spreading the words on their threats!