Getting to Know the Sun Bear

 Sun bears are the coolest! Let’s learn about them!

The sun bear (Helarctos malayanus) is the smallest bear on the planet. They live in the forests of South East Asia. Sun bears are not picky eaters –opportunistic omnivores. They eat a varied diet including termites, ants, beetle grubs, a large variety of fruit species, and honey. Besides being adorable and charismatic, these smallest bears play an important role in maintaining the ecosystem and equilibrium of the forest. Like other bears, sun bears are face threats ranging from illegal poaching for their gall bladders, the illegal pet trade, and loss of habitat. 

You can join to help care for them: https://www.bsbcc.org.my/volunteer.html


Meet the Delightful, Sweet Manis

Text by Chiew Lin May

Photos by BSBCC & Chiew Lin May

Sweet Manis has been at Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre (BSBCC) since August 2009. During the arrival, she was suspected to be pregnant. However, her pregnancy was later found to be a pseudo pregnancy. Manis means “Sweet” in Malay language.

Manis was found having health problems which caused changes in skin colour and dryness. Her health condition has improved with intensive treatment and care. She has received health checks since arriving at her new home. Manis settled into the new environment very quickly. A nutritious and balanced diet was given to her.

Being kept as a pet for years can have an effect on the sun bears physical and mental health. Manis will show more stereotypical behaviours in the dens. It is believed that she was never given any enrichment when she was kept at the zoo, thus leading to her stereotypical behaviour. The volunteers and keepers provide different types of enrichment to encourage Manis’s natural behaviour and for stimulation. Manis is a curious bear that is keen on interacting with the new enrichment toys offered. She now has dry leaves as a bed which she has never had before.

After she finished quarantine period, Manis soon moved to the next stage of her rehabilitation. In 2010, Manis was integrated with the larger adult female bear group – Cerah, Jelita, Kuamut, Susie and Lawa. 

Manis and her friends were moved to the new bear house on 7th April 2010, after the construction of bear house 1 and forest enclosure 1 was completed.

Integrating them with other bears will enable them to share and roam the forest enclosure together. It also allows Manis to continue to learn more wild sun bear behaviours. Besides, there has been a significant change in Manis’s behaviour since she has bear pals. Over the years, we have watched her grow into a gentle and dominant adult bear. She is the “grandmother” of the group.

Preparing for life in the wild can be a long process. Sun bear cubs will live with their mother for two to three years to learn the skills they will need to become wild sun bears. But for Manis’s case, she will not be able to be released in the wild due to her old age. But in BSBCC, Manis will be given a second chance to survive as a wild bear in order to let her have the freedom to live in the rainforest.

On July 2012, it was the first time for Manis to begin exploring the forest world when she was released into the forest enclosure and was able to be free to forage, climb, play, explore the world and acquire a variety of other survival skills.

Despite her age, Manis tends to spend more time on the ground than climbing high in trees. This includes looking for termites and taking naps. Manis has adapted well to life as a sun bear and is leaving her past behind her. She enjoys the forest and displays absolute enthusiasm!

We cannot imagine the future for sun bears if they continue being caught and sold as house pets, or their home continues to be lost. We must protect sun bears and their forest. Please help to stop illegal wildlife trafficking.

Susie, Orphaned Sun Bear

 Susie was rescued by Sabah Wildlife Department on 07 August 2008. She was being kept as an illegal pet. The owner claimed that Susie was dancing inside the cage. Susie has lost everything –mother, love, wild instinct.

Fortunately, she has given a second chance. Now she is safe and having a lot of fun learning about forest life. She has grown into a beautiful strong bear! Please share her story!


Sun Bears Back to the Wild-Sunbearo & Loki!

Video by Chiew Lin May

​“And soon there will be here - taking first steps into true FREEDOM!”

The bears have blossomed into the wild bears they were meant to be!

Here Sunbearo and Loki take you on a journey to release into their protected forest. It was encouraged to see how they take a huge step to begin their new life. Wishing them well on their journey to freedom!

Sun bears release program are very costly. Please support and help us give sun bears a second chance at a life in the wild. We are incredibly grateful for the support from our supporters, volunteers for always be there for making sun bears return to the wild.

​Background music by Really Slow Motion:
1) Restoring Hope 
2) Riding the Light https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dUPfa...


Begining 2021 With Their Freedom

Text by: Pradeep Aggi Gunasegaran

Photos by: Tee Thye Lim, Chiew Lin May, Seng Yen Wah

It has been a tough year for 2020 for BSBCC and all of us around the world with Covid 19 lingering amongst us. However, the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre (BSBCC) has not deviated from its goal of rescuing and rehabilitating Bornean Sun Bears in Sabah with help of our dedicated staffs, our supporters, Yayasan Hasanah, and Yayasan Sime Darby. The battle is not over yet but we at BSBCC have decided to kick it off in 2021 by releasing another two of our promising candidates back into their natural habitat, Sunbearo and Loki. The release of these two individuals would bring up a total of ten Bornean Sun Bears being released back into the wild since 2015.

Back in March 2014, BSBCC received both Sunbearo (Rescue Bear 37) and Loki (Rescure Bear 38) as young cubs. Sunbearo was rescued by Sabah Widlife Department back in January 2014 from a Mini Zoo and Hot Springs in Tawau while Loki was confiscated by Sabah Wildlife Department from the backyard of an inn, which was bought and kept as an illegal pet. Both of them had different names when they came over to BSBCC; Sunbearo was originally named as Tan Sri by his previous owner while Loki was called Ooi. Both their names were changed as recognition to Neways International (Australia) Pty Ltd who adopted Sunbearo and also Steve Denim who adopted and gave Loki’s name to honour his deceased cat.  

A month after arriving at BSBCC, both Sunbearo and Loki were introduced to each to aid each other through this rehabilitation journey. Since then, both of them have never left each other’s side and have remained best friends. Since 2015, they have been exploring the forest enclosures in BSBCC together. Sunbearo and Loki have been exhibiting behaviour that is deemed essential for a wild sun bear throughout the years of them occupying the different forest enclosures. Sunbearo who is at 8 years of age is an excellent tree climber, loves exploring his surroundings for food and enjoys sunbathing under the sun from time to time. Loki, now 7 years of age has the same characters as Sunbearo but she is also capable of building nest out of leaves and branches in the forest enclosures as well. They can always be seen together at the Bear House sharing the hammock to sleep on together and even today, they suckle on each other every now and then for comfort as well. After years of rehabilitation, evaluating the behaviour as sun bears and their taking into account of their social characteristics, it was decided that Sunbearo and Loki will also be released back into the forest together; it hopes that the two of them would establish their home range close to each other and increase their survivability together as they are able to share resources as well.

The day before they begin the journey to the release sight, both Sunbearo and Loki underwent a last health check-up separately before they were both transferred in to the translocation cages. Both of their conditions were monitored throughout the time before they were loaded at into the four wheel drives to begin their journey to freedom at 11.45 p.m., 9th January 2021. Throughout the six hours journey, Sunbearo and Loki were composed. They faced all kinds of unfamiliarity from the moment they were placed in the translocation boxes, being lifted and fitted into the vehicles, experiencing the rain and the uneven roads of Sabah. During each stop to check on them, the bears were receptive to our approach to the translocation box to feed them with food and water. It is as though, Sunbearo and Loki knew the purpose of their entire journey.

At 5.55 a.m. on 10th January 2021, Sunbearo and Loki arrived at their site of release. The sun was beginning to rise and the jungle came to life with beautiful voice of the gibbons, hornbill, coucal, and many more.  It was decided beforehand that Sunbearo and Loki will be allowed to meet each other in the translocation boxes that would allow the two best friends to start of their new journey feeling calm and safer in this unfamiliar territory. At 6.48 a.m., the door towards freedom opened up. Sunbearo and Loki took their time to come out of the boxes. The both of them appeared to have settled down and they walked out of the boxes gracefully. Sunbearo was first and Loki was right behind his tail. Sunbearo and Loki were sniffing their new surrounding without feeling startled. Loki continued sniffing and walking on the pathway that was opened for them while Sunbearo stayed around for thirteen minutes sniffing the around before walking into the forest. 

We could not ask for a better release than this. The experience was peaceful and fulfilling. Both Sunbearo and Loki looked at home since the moment they stepped foot on the soil. Their movement will be monitor via the satellite collars on them and we hope to see them thriving in the forest during the upcoming weeks.