The 51-year-old Thompson took time off from her holiday here to pitch in and help promote sunbear conservation by showing up at a "Power to the People" street party. "I want to take the message about the sunbear back to the West and tell people about them because no one there knows about the sunbear.
"I hope to persuade someone from Discovery Channel to do a programme about the sunbears because all the other bears -- the polar bear, the grizzly bear, the panda -- everyone knows about them and there are many efforts to save them.
"But no one told me about the sunbear. No one even knows about the sunbear. And indeed, I didn't know about it until I came here and I found out about sunbears when I was reading some material." She said that she hoped to get support for the Bornean Sunbear Conservation Centre and that she had spoken with its founder Wong Siew Te, whom she said "is single-handedly trying to save the sunbear".
"I was impressed with his work. He is an expert. Most species are saved because one person thinks and starts doing something about it." She pledged to help Wong and the species by publicising the effort. She described the sunbear as "the most beautiful little creature on the planet" but very little is known about it. "You look at them and you go 'Oh my God, why didn't I know about them?'".
She said she would visit the sanctuary later this month with her family as part of their holiday here. "Eventually, I hope to do a programme about the sunbear." When asked whether she would consider doing a feature film in Sabah, she said she was here only as a visitor for now. "I have no intrinsic knowledge of Sabah. However, if there is a chance to do it, I will jump at it," she said, adding that she was in Sabah on a break after writing the sequel for Nanny McPhee for six months. She has been here for a week, learning to dive with actor husband Greg Wise and 12-year-old daughter, Gaia Romilly. -- By Julia Chan