9/17/20

Two weeks Training Program

Text by Jerome Visperas Esteva

Photos by BSBCC



My name is Jerome Visperas Esteva, and I currently work at the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre as a Ticket and Shop assistant.

The reason why I am volunteering at the bear house is to gain more information about the bears. I am curious to learn about their daily routine and I want to experience how to feed them, make their daily enrichment and clean their cages (where the bears sleep at night).

This is actually my first time working in the bear house. I found my first day at the bear house was a bit hard adjusting to a different routine. To be honest it needs a lot of energy to do all the work here. The daily tasks include :- cleaning the bear cages, preparing food for the bears, feeding inside & outside(forest enclosures), completing the check of the electric fences, making enrichment, etc.





My mentor/”buddy” was Mizuno who is one of the senior bear keepers. He taught me a lot about the safety and the bears behaviour. I am extremely grateful for all the information he shared with me.



I have gained so much experience and learnt so much during these two weeks. I want to say THANK YOU to all the staff at the bear house for helping me during my training program.

9/14/20

Our Strong Survivor, Diana

Text by Pradeep Gunasegaran

Photos by Chiew Lin May & Seng Yen Wah

​Diana is the 33rd rescued sun bear that came to the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre (BSBCC) on July 2013 as an adult. She was initially living at View Top Resort in Tawau, Sabah where she was exhibited to the visitors in a small concrete cage with another male sun bear that goes by the name of Ronnie. When she arrived at BSBCC, she was in a poor condition as she had a hole on her right snout and bald spots on the back of her head. It is suspected that she had these issues due to confrontation with Ronnie as they were kept in a small cage together. Besides that, she also had unhealthy gums due to diet that only comprised of rice and banana.

Due to Diana’s condition, she constantly needed special care from the Bear Care team to ensure that continues to improve with BSBCC. She was initially a sensitive bear and was always making her displeasure known by giving out warning sounds at the presence of humans. Regardless of her reaction to the keepers, they always provided her with different types of environmental enrichment to ensure that she had a better living quality with us. As she slowly became more comfortable with her new environment, she would spend her time being on the ground most of the time but when it is time to take a nap, she would never fail to climb into her favourite basket that is placed in the pen.



However, a year into staying with BSBCC, the injury on muzzle and the dental problem did not improve. Since 2015, she was constantly brought onto the surgical table to address these issues. With the help of multiple veterinarians from Sabah Wildlife Department, Wildlife Rescue Unit and others from within the region came together to help Diana. As Diana was diagnosed with periodental disease (gingivitis, dental calculus, gingival recession, and tooth fractures), she underwent multiple tooth extractions. Today, Diana is only left with one canine tooth on the upper jaw while her teeth on the entire lower jaw have been extracted out. Due to this, her lower jaw has been shrinking and she has to go on a soft food diet. She was also intelligent to choose fruits that are only ripen as they are softer for her consumption.



​In May 2017, Diana was transferred to quarantine section in order for her to continue receiving special care from the Bear Care team. As Diana got healthier here, she was then slowly introduced to other sun bears as well. She was first integrated with a young group of sun bears, Soo, BJ, Kina, and Sika.  Among these four bear, Diana loved playing around with Sika and Kina. At the beginning of year, Soo, BJ, Kina, and Sika were transferred to the Bear House to continue with their rehabilitation process. It was then when Diana was introduced to Phin, a gentle adult male sun bear. Diana continues to love playing with environment enrichments that are provided for her and sleeping in her basket. She loves environmental enrichments that in cooperates the use of gunny sack. She would play with it and when she is tired, she would use it as a blanket when she sleeps in her basket.




Meet Betung

 Video by Chiew Lin May


Day 15: All she wants is loved and care Don’t miss out on a sweet Little Betung story! See how Little Betung progressed in her two weeks of the rehabilitation process. She is one of the victims of the pet trade. She was neglected for five months and kept in a small cage. When she arrived at BSBCC, her condition was emaciated, malnourished and growth stunted. Our team worked around the clock to build her strength. It is hard to imagine the life she endured before her rescue by Sabah Wildlife Department. Betung’s fighting spirit makes us reminded that she should be with her mother and free in the wild. She took every opportunity to be a bear cub!




She needed emergency veterinary care. Please buy a gift to help Little Betung the love and care she needs to recover - A healthy balanced diet, medical care and enrichment toys to keep her stimulated both physically and mentally. You can show LOVE by adopting Betung. Please share her story! 

Everything was stolen from her by humans. Keeping sun bears as pets are “Illegal”. Please do not keep and support sun bear as a pet – Give back a life where they belong! 

Adopt Betung: https://www.bsbcc.org.my/share-bear-adoption.html 
To donate - https://www.bsbcc.org.my/donate.html

Don’t Worry, Little Betung – The promise of a bright future

 Text and Photos by Chiew Lin May



On 26th August 2020, BSBCC received their third rescued cub of the year. It is not a proud number and all these rescued sun bears underlying problems are the same. How much more pain and trauma must the bears have to endure? We cannot imagine a bright future for sun bears if this poaching and illegal pet trade continues at this rapid rate. They are being threatened!

Rescued at an estimated five months of age, the story reported the cub was found by a villager’s dog and she was ‘wandering alone’ in the orchard at Kampung Betung in Ranau district. She was a tiny little cub – no teeth yet. She was taken and kept as a pet for about five months in a chicken wire mesh cage. She was fed with Lactogen milk powder only. The villager was willing to surrender Betung to Sabah Wildlife Department. Wonder what happened to her mother…? A mother will risk their own life in their cub’s defence and would never abandon their cub at that young age. Little Betung would still be constantly with her mother. 

Her weight was 1.4kg and she was in a poor condition, growth stunted, underweight, super weak, malnourished, emaciated and suffering with alopecia on the head and body. She has been placed into quarantine while a health assessment, nutritious diet and care plan is put into place. She receives treatment with medicated shampoo to treat her pruritus. 

Betung needs to be nursed back to health before starting to venture out to the forest. She soon took her first steps on the LONG road of recovery. Little Betung is beginning to settle into her new home. The surroundings are still very new to her. She has a lot to overcome having lost her mother and forest home at an early age. 


She is now in quarantine and receives intensive treatment from our vet and bear team. She requires 24 hour care and 7 feeds a day. A huge thanks to the Wildlife Rescue Unit of Sabah Wildlife Department for taking care and help us get the vet care Little Betung needed. Finally, she is now safe and loved.
Being so young she would not have been able to survive on her own - we are ready to provide Little Betung with a healthy diet, veterinary care and enrichment activities to stimulate her. 


She has settled in quite well. She is keen on the new menu and loves the food she is receiving - MILK. On 29th August 2020, we moved her to a larger den filled with climbing structures, toys and treats to keep her enriched and stimulated. Slowly, she is learning that the bear world means a lot to her. She loves being in the den – ready to explore everything!
 
Thanks to our dedicated cub keepers, Adrian and Danny who teach the cubs forest life skills! Even so tiny and weak, Little Betung NEVER MISSES the chance to climb!! She has improved in her tree climbing abilities. But, she will take some time and think about how to get down from the climbing structure or platform, and she never stops trying!




She will find the best digging spots. She spends her day foraging and digging the dead wood. She will bite and play with the small branches or dried leaves! 




She has logs to dig with, dried leaves to destroy, bear balls to roll with and a gunny sack hammock to sleep on – cubs just love this! She will keep herself entertained throughout the day. She loves exploring new smells, sights and textures. She finds dead logs very amusing and it often looks like her first time surrounded by the dead logs. She can have endless fun with them! She enjoys her quiet time and does not appreciate any disturbances as she can sometimes get quite feisty. Cubs vary a lot in the amount of sleep they need. After she finishes drinking milk, she spends her time snoozing with her bear toy or inside the gunny hammock to recover and regain back her energy.


She will make everyone around fall in LOVE with her enthusiasm and spirit. 


And most importantly, Betung’s spirit, now she is able to do her favourite activities as other sun bear cubs do. 


She is a little cub who can be very expressive. When digging into wood, you can find her keeping an open mouth or showing off her sharp canines which indicates the wood dust has stuck on her tongue – she thinks of a way to remove it! 


As Little Betung surrounded herself with wood or toys, there was “a little something” that would make her SMILE! 



You will wonder what has attracted Betung’s attention. She will sniff, be curious and get into it!



​She will prove to be a natural fighter! Imagine the future for this little cub who would have been able to live in peace with her mother in the wild. Please remember sun bears are NOT PETS and should NOT BE STOLEN from the wild to live with humans.

Little Betung is still in the process of recovering and we look forward to seeing the difference that living without trauma makes to her – growing and thriving. 


Hope one day her weight and skin condition will show improvement, then she can climb up into the trees, build her self-confidence, be free once more and safe from any harm! She still has a long road of rehabilitation ahead of her. Little Betung needs you to help with her medical recovery. Please consider helping and supporting Little Betung by donating towards the on-going care and emergency medical treatment. Grab a wonderful gift today! Your donation will be on its way to support this little one. Stay strong, Little One!




Rebecca and The Bears

 Text by Rebecca Kimlaw

Photos by Mizuno Merek Men & Seng Yen Wah


Hi! I am Rebecca Kimlaw, one of the staff at the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre. My volunteer program started on the 14th of July and ended on the 27th July. I was fortunate enough to spend my two amazing weeks volunteering with the bears. It gave me a glance to see how the operations are generally carried out in the bear house. It was a good chance to learn more about the bears.

My two-week volunteering here was one of the most precious experiences in my life. There was a lot of work to do in the bear house and required a lot of energy. The tasks I was assigned doing were cleaning the bear dens, preparing a lot of food for the bears, feeding bears inside and outside the bear house area and so on. I started falling in love with the bears. Although they are so adorable, we must all bear in mind that its illegal to keep them as a pet. I hope people have awareness about this, so we can protect these beautiful bears together.

I felt comfortable at the bear house because the bear keepers helped me so much. They taught me a lot about the bears. One of my favourite moments is making an enrichment for the bear. Normally, we use leaves, banana, and other accessible nature resources to make an enrichment for them. I enjoyed feeding the bears inside and outside bear house area. I felt satisfied when I saw the bears enjoying their food.

All the bears are cute. But the one that I like the most is Om. Om is a 15 years old male bear. He is a very energetic bear and enjoys his food. He spends a good deal of his time in the forest. Sometimes he is quite content playing all alone, especially with small pieces of dead wood. So, my buddy (Mizuno) and I made an enrichment for him. We could tell that he liked it.




Special thanks to my buddies Danny, Bithrenley, Mizuno and all the bear keepers at the bear house for giving me information and helping me during my training programme. I sincerely recommend this place to anyone who would like to participate in volunteering programmes. You will not regret it! Hopefully I will have a chance to enrol in this volunteering  program again.