Facebook Fundraiser a success! Thank you all! – Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre

Facebook Fundraiser a success! Thank you all! – Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre

First of all a big apology for the delay to post this blog that was long due, especially to a group of very dedicated volunteers and fans who help us to make the fundraiser possible.

June 2 was a great day for the BSBCC. It was the culmination of the second annual Facebook Fundraiser for the BSBCC and the first year that I was able to attend a portion of the event because of the time difference in this part of the world. Last year I had to be out of the country to attend a conference in China (with no access to facebook in China :( ) and missed all the fun.

When I got online on June 2, I was met by a very enthusiastic group on Facebook. Everyone had wonderful questions about the sun bears and about the BSBCC’s work in saving these bears. The Fundraiser began on May 15th with opening of the Sun Bear Kissing Booth. For each donation of $5 to the BSBCC the fundraising team would mail you a bright bracelet that said “Kissed By A Sun Bear”. The bracelets were very popular, raising over $800. Both the bracelets and the cost of mailing the bracelets were donated by the fundraising team. The prizes for the June 2 portion of the fundraiser were all wonderful and donated by by friends of the BSBCC, as well as, the cost of mailing these prizes to their winners who represented many countries around the world including the US, Canada, Germany, the UK, Belgium and Malaysia. Prizes included several artworks of bears including one by Maria Collin who won the Golden George Award (like the Oscars for bear artists) for her rendition of Jelita one of the sun bears at the BSBCC. This prized possession went to Anita Phillips in New York. Other prizes included two jackets from Eco-Gear in Canada, many beautiful jewelry pieces, stuffed sun bears, a quilt, high quality photos and many other special prizes. Donors of $50 and up could adopt one of the sun bears for a one year period. There were 39 people who donated between $50 and $510, so the BSBCC now has many new sun bear parents. Their names will remain in the BSBCC for one year so that all visitors can see who has adopted the bears. A photo will be posted on this blog so that you can see. Many others donated equally appreciated sums of money to the BSBCC for which we are eternally grateful. Donations of any amount are always appreciated and needed. With the number of sun bears at the center, there is always much need. All together this fundraiser brought the BSBCC $4800 US in much needed assistance. All the new sun bear parents are very enthusiastic about helping their sun bear children and I have heard that there may be a special event near Christmas to raise money for extra enrichment toys for all the bears.

A special thank you to the fundraising team who worked many months getting ready for this fundraiser. They are:

Karen Bohannon, USA

Deb Bryan, Canada

Maria Collin, Gernany

Anna Gee, Australia

Deirdre Kingsman, UK

Jill Wheaton Lindsey, USA

Anita Phillips, USA

Wendy Allison Reese, USA

Anthony James Saunders, Australia

Maureen Shafer, Canada

Sheri Reese, USA

Carolyn Wilkins Watson

Special thanks to Sheri Reese who very hard to make this fundraiser possible and tons of email conversation with me. Thank you Sheri!

I also like to recognize the following individuals who donated more than US$50 and adopt one of our bear. Thank you all! You are now officially the parent of the sun bears! Congratulation!

Anthony James Saunders

Big Heart Bing

Deirdre Kingsmand

Jo Buckingham

Joan Rog

Karen Bohannon

Kerry Mahoney

Linda Pickthall

Lori Collins Lindsay

Mary Katherine Pozzini

Peter Masscharis

Rebecca Hamilton

Sarah Rose Zirbes

Sheri Reese

Julie Diperna

Stacey WAtts

Wendell (Wendy) Tripp

Rachel Ann Williams

Jill Lindsey

Cindy Partipilo

Helen Ashworth

Estee S. T. Lim

Wendy Reese

Lesley Small

Delores Carlson

Susan Schildhaus and daughter Avery Shildhaus

Anna Gee

Dawn Edwards and Sue Edwards

Louise Bodin

Anita Phillips

Maria Collin

Guin Heeler

Michele Chartier

Angela Kyle

Joanne Nichol

Marion Wilson

Allison Tucker

Angela Kyle

Lori Conley

All and all, it was great event. I really hope this event can be an annual event where all of us get together and raise the awareness of the plight of sun bears and fund for BSBCC. It is only when we all work together we can make sun bear from the least known bear to the well known bears!

I am inviting all of you to join and “like” our new fans page on facebook http://www.facebook.com/about/privacy/#!/BorneanSunBearConservationFansPage

The Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Fans Page aims to provide a platform for all the supporters of BSBCC and sun bear lovers across the world to get together, to be friends, to share stories and thoughts, to spread the words and to raise awareness of sun bears. Everyone is welcome to visit and be part of the family of sun bear lovers.

With the helps from our new staff and volunteers, we also will launch our Official Page of Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre in facebook. PLease stay tuned. Our new website www.bsbcc.org.my is ready and going live as we speak.

Finally, thank you and thank you and thank you again and again to make the fundraiser possible and successful. Again, I am grateful to all of the volunteers listed above, especially Sheri Reese, to make this wonderful event a success!
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7 days with Oakland Zoo Volunteers – Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre

7 days with Oakland Zoo Volunteers – Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre

Text by Gloria Ganang and photos by BSBCC team.

The BSBCC is very fortunate to have volunteers from the Oakland Zoo, Oakland, California helping us in the process of building up the centre. They arrived on the 17th July 2012. They planned 7 days of their stay in Sabah at the BSBCC helping us doing husbandry works and enrichment for our bears, maintenance works, and research as well.

Volunteers from Oakland Zoo doing painting for the bear cage

Fire Hose Hammock in progress
4 fire hose hammock have been done by Oakland Zoo volunteers !! Thank you so much !!

The volunteers comprise of 17 people of the age 15-19 years old and led by 2 group leaders, Melinda Seivert and Stacey Smith. We are also lucky to have Manuel as their tour guide who had worked hard together with the group at the centre. Each volunteers had experiences working in the zoo for at least a year. Sun bears are one of the animal species they have in their zoo. This was their first trip to Borneo, therefore they were very excited for their activities ahead. The group was given an introduction talk by our project manager, Wai Pak on their first day. It was followed by a tour around the centre. Later in the evening they helped us do a final clearing of construction bits and pieces around our newly constructed bridge and platform. The next 5 days, the group was divided into groups and did various tasks of the centre’s improvement. They did husbandry works which include renumbering guillotine door, repainting rusted cage bars and collecting dried leaves for bear enrichment. They also cleared leaves and branches around enclosure fences, cleaned hot wire along enclosure, piled up reusable wood materials, greased bolts on bridges outside enclosure fences, cleaned drainage and covered drain area with gravel. The group also made new enrichment for our bears which include 4 fire hose hammocks and 5

Well done !!
The paper mache enrichment were ready for the bears

They also did a research on public knowledge of sun bears by interviewing visitors around Sepilok.

Volunteers interviewing the visitor in the area of Sepilok Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre

Results for public survey on sun bears

Wong (BSBCC founder and CEO) gave a brief lecture about sun bear ecology before the group get to experience the tropical rainforest adjacent to the centre. We traced animal footprints such as wild boar and mouse deer and bear claw marks on tree barks, saw some species of lizards, birds and insects. We also saw plenty of cicada and termite nests. The volunteers were fascinated with the different kind of living organisms in the rainforest. However, the attention went most to the all time famous leaches! Everyone helped each other making sure there were no leaches on them.

Bear’s claw mark on the tree
Can you spot it ?

The group spent their last day watching our exclusive video of “Big Dreams Little Bears”. We would like to thank the group for their contribution to the centre. It was such a wonderful and enjoyable experience and we definitely learned a lot from them! Thanks for sharing your time, ideas, and laughers with us. Looking forward for another group to visit! Hugs and kisses from BSBCC team!

Watching “Big Dreams Little Bears” exclusive video.

Final session with Wong

Oakland Zoo volunteers and BSBCC team
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Sun Bear at TEDxKL – Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre

Sun Bear at TEDxKL – Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre

Text by Siew Te Wong

“Come Mary my girl, come….” was the first sentence I said when I stood on the stage of TEDxKL last Saturday on July 14th. The 800+ audiences who were in the theater of Temple of Fine Arts at Brickfield, Kuala Lumpur, stretched their neck, anticipated to see Mary the sun bear walking on stage. I then clicked to my first slide: a photo of me and Mary the sun bear took last May when I walk her in the forest!

No, I did not bring Mary the sun bear to the stage of TEDxKL, instead I showed the photo of Mary the sun bear! I began my talk by asking the audiences if they know about sun bear before this TED’s talk. From the stage, I saw about one third of the audience raised their hands. I then asked if they know about giant panda, a cute black and white bear from China, I saw almost EVERYONE raised their hand.

This is the problem that sun bear faced today. After 187 years sun bears was first described to the scientific world by American naturalist Thomas Horsfield in 1825, there are many people in the world still do not know much about a species of bear call sun bear. I therefore name the title of my TEDxKL talk as “Malayan sun bear: our long forgotten bear!”

TED was started in 1984 as a small conference bringing together people from three worlds: Technology, Entertainment, Design, to talk about how their ideas come together. Since then, the scope of TED has become even broader. TEDx is a program of local, self- organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. At a TEDx event, TEDTalks video and live speakers combine to spark deep discussion and connection in a small group. These local, self-organized events are branded TEDx, where x=independently organized TED event. TEDxKL was the locally organized TED talks held in Kuala Lumpur, the capital of Malaysia.

The theme of this year TEDxKL conference is “Interdependence”. Sun bear is a good subject to show “interdependency” of sun bear and other forest residents, plants, animal, and all other organisms. All of these live forms, human included, are interdependence of each other to maintain a healthy forest ecosystem and better environment. By telling the sad story of Mary, I talk about the threats of sun bears and how Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre is trying to help this little known bear.

At the end of the talk, I official launched the documentary “Big Dream Little Bear” which is now available online at http://distrify.com/films/597-big-dream-little-bears and our new BSBCC website http://www.bsbcc.org.my/. Big Dream Little Bear is the best example of “do what you do best to help sun bear” which was produced, filmed, directed, narrated by Howard Jackson and Audrey Low from Wildhoop Productions.

It was a great honor for me to be invited to give a talk at TEDxKL last weekend. It was an eye opening event to be able to listen to 12 others speakers’ talks and learned from their experience and great works. I sincerely thank the organizer for this opportunity to talk about sun bear in front of so many live audiences last weekend and many more across the world who will view the video online. I simply cannot wait until the video is available online.

TEDxKL, you are awesome!


Big Dream Little Bears: A Film by Wildhoop Productions

Big Dream Little Bears: A Film by Wildhoop Productions
by Rosa Phoenix

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Big Dream Little Bears: A Film by Wildhoop Productions

Imagine you are a baby, unable to feed or care for yourself.

You are in the forest with your mother and she is suddenly shot and killed.

Men storm out of nowhere and quickly butcher her for her valuable body parts -- her feet will be eaten as a delicacy, and her bile will be used as medicine for people in China. What’s left of your mother’s corpse is left to rot on the forest floor.

You may be left to starve, killed by another creature, or, in the best case scenario, taken captive and forced to live in a tiny cage for your entire life as someone’s “pet”.

photo by Chris Bray

This is the sad story of young Suria the Sun Bear and her companions at the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre (BSBCC) in the new wildlife documentary Big Dream Little Bears by WildHoop Productions (Howard Jackson and Dr. Audrey Low of Australia).

Luckily, Suria and the other orphaned bears in the film were rescued and brought to BSBCC, where a team of wildlife biologists led by Siew Te Wong study and care for them.

Siew Te Wong and Sun Bear
photo from BSBCC

Although the bears are still kept in cages at BSBCC, Wong’s big dream is to release the bears back into the wild.

Big Dream Little Bears shows Wong and his team readying the bears for their initial release into an enclosed nature preserve. In this protected area, they can learn to adjust to the wild, and still receive food and medical care.

If the bears can successfully adapt to forest life, the hope is that one day they will be released for good back into the wild.

photo by Chris Bray

Their release is important, not only for the quality of life for the individual bears, but because their species is endangered.

Each animal that can potentially breed and perpetuate the species is important, when extinction is on the horizon.

Poachers aren’t the only threat to the Sun Bears. The decimation of Borneo’s rain forest is happening at an alarming rate.

The most ancient forest in the world is being cleared to plant palm oil plantations--palm oil is used for cooking, biodiesel and many processed foods consumed in the West. With less forest, there is less food and habitat to go around, and more competition amongst all creatures for precious resources.

rescued Sun Bear
photo from BSBCC

Big Dream Little Bears is a story of human cruelty and uncaring destruction, and it’s also a story of human compassion and hope.

Siew Te Wong and his team work so hard to rescue, protect and study these animals, realizing that their actions could mean the difference between extinction or survival of a species.

The filmmakers gave their time and skills. They funded and produced Big Dream Little Bears themselves and are donating part of the profits to the BSBCC. All understand the urgency of the situation: they are in a race against time, and the odds seem hopeless.

Filmmakers Audrey Low (left) and Howard Jackson (right)
with Siew Te Wong and some of the BSBCC team
photo by Wildhoop Productions

What I took away from Big Dream Little Bears: Every one counts!

What we each do in our lives makes a difference. Every bear makes a difference, and every human. How do we spend our time? What work do we do? What do we buy? What do we eat? Every action, no matter how small, has a consequence, whether we are aware of it or not.

If I truly love Life, I will choose to make mindful choices.

I will choose compassion over cruelty. I will choose hope over despair.

photo by Chris Bray

Suria, the littlest bear, steals the show, and I am rooting for her happiness and freedom.

She has lived in her cage for so long, that the outside world is now totally foreign to her. Will she emerge from her cage to touch the earth, and experience life in nature once again, as she deserves? The future of the Sun Bears may depend on it.

And their future may also depend on you and me.


Wildhoop Productions

P.S. You may know the filmmaker and presenter in Big Dream Little Bears, Dr. Audrey Low, from the blogging world. She has the blogs, Wildhoop Productions, Papaya Tree Limited and 365 Just Show Up. I am very proud of the work she and her partner, Howard Jackson, have put into this project.


Talking bears

Talking bears

Tuesday July 10, 2012

Talking bears

WONG Siew Te will be sharing his passion for sun bear conservation at the TEDxKL event on Saturday in Kuala Lumpur. He will be joining six other speakers who will all be talking on different topics; what brings them together is that they all have a passion that they want to share with anyone who will listen.
Among the other presenters at Saturday’s event are entrepreneur and philanthropist Derek Sivers, entrepreneur Myshkin Ingawale, nanotechnology expert Dr Ille Gebershuber, writer-actor-director Jo Kukathas, photographer Zann Huang, architect and designer Kevin Mark Low, Sinar Project co-founder Khairil Yusof, and comedian Kavin Jayaram.
* For more story in The Star today.

Papa bear’s story

Papa bear’s story

Tuesday July 10, 2012

Papa bear’s story


One man shares his passion for a little-known bear in need of saving.
THE worry in Wong Siew Te’s voice is obvious during our telephone interview. The founder of the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre in Sandakan, Sabah, had walked in to work to find Manis, a 12-year-old sun bear, lying motionless in her cage. According to Wong, no amount of coaxing could make her move.
Papa bear at work: Wong Siew Te, founder of the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre in Sandakan, Sabah, will share his insights about savng this threatened animal at the TEDxKL conference this month. — Photo by Cede Prudente
Manis and Wong go back a long way. He prefers not to divulge details but of what is known, Manis was rescued from a pet owner. To Wong, it does not matter how the owner had treated Manis. Keeping sun bears, or any endangered animal for that matter, is illegal.
“It all boils down to the way they are acquired. The most common way is through the wildlife market. This means someone will have to go into the jungle to hunt for it. In the process, the hunter may have to kill the mother. It’s a vicious circle,” says Wong, 43.
While her living conditions improved tremendously when the centre rescued her, isn’t Manis still a pet in a cage, though?
* For more story in The Star today.


Wong Siew Te | TEDxKualaLumpur

Wong Siew Te | TEDxKualaLumpur

Wong Siew Te

Sun Bear Conservationist:
Known as the Sun Bear Man in some circles, Siew Te is in the midst of setting up the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre (BSBCC) in Sabah. The project aims to save the oft-overlooked animals through research, education, rehabilitation and habitat conservation. His efforts are backed by the Wildlife Conservation Network, an innovative group that uses a venture capital model to protect some of the world’s most endangered species.

About admin

TEDxKL is happening on 14th of July 2012. Our theme is inspired by TED Speaker Tiffany Shlain's talk in last years TED Women. TEDxKL 2012’s theme “Interdependence”, where we seek to explore how every single entity, no matter how distinct or conflicted they may be, plays a role in each other’s survival, development, progress or change.


A Bear's Eye View of Sun Bears: Behind the Schemes, Episode 17

“Big Dream Little Bears” – behind the production.. – Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre

“Big Dream Little Bears” – behind the production.. – Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre

It’s been a long hill to climb getting Big Dream Little Bears ready for release. It’s hard for anyone outside the movie business to know how many processes a film goes through before it can be broadcast. Just look at the long list of credits on any small, seemingly low budget, documentary and think how many experts and expert wages are involved. It took a while, too long, for us to realise that we weren’t going to get any technical or financial help, so there were no options for us other than to give up on the project or do everything ourselves. Score the music, many hundreds of hours at the edit suite, colour grade, record voice-overs, do the graphics, sound mix, arrange preview screenings etc. etc. etc, on and on it goes.

It wasn’t much of a decision really. We knew we wouldn’t give up on it.

From the beginning, when we first began talking with Wong via Skype, we were determined to do a film that brought the actual people, the real experts doing the heavy lifting, to the forefront of the story. We’ve all seen so many, often very good, celebrity driven documentaries where the true stars of the story are relegated to the background. We thought surely there is an audience taste to meet these dedicated, hard working and hardy individuals doing the back-breaking, often dangerous work, for us all.

We’re glad film stars and other concerned celebrities break their busy schedules to use their high profiles to help. Fantastic. We congratulate them. It’s a selfless and much valued contribution. We believed there was also room for a film that got inside the lives of the people on the ground, a story that showed their hopes, fears, humour, disappointments and victories while fighting to overcome so many obstacles between them and their goals.

Judging from the wonderful reactions to our test screenings at universities and colleges here in Australia, and considering Big Dream Little Bears was selected by World Kids International Film Festival to tour schools in Mumbai for a year and is an Official Selection for the CSIRO Australian Science Film Festival, there is an audience hunger to delve a little deeper into the subject. We’ve had over 65,000 hits on our Youtube site alone. None of that helped us get it broadcast on TV of course, but frankly, we don’t give a damn, we’ve taken a page from Wong’s book, just keep moving forward, one small step at a time. There is an audience out there and we can get it to them, you, on the web.

It’s a great freedom actually, having done all the work and financed it all ourselves, we don’t owe any production company or network anything. It’s ours to do as we want. So we’ve decided to release it Video On Demand and give 40% of the profits to the BSBCC.

I remember well at one point while filming Big Dream I spent six or seven days on a ladder in the sun waiting for the first bear to take it’s freedom. Constant spider webs being woven on the camera, ducking bees, covered in ants, swatting mosquitoes, feet numbed and trying not to touch the electric fence (it finally zapped me). I would gladly triple that time than do one more minute of writing letters or filling in applications to get this film out to the world. Time to get the show on the road.

What better way and what better time to do so than to have Wong, the man who dreamt the dream to release the littlest bears on earth, officially announce the release of Big Dream Little Bears at his TED talk on the 14th of July.

I hope a lot of Malaysians see this program and realise what their incredible, highly trained fellow countrymen are doing to save their heritage. Borneo is a jewel of the world.

Howard Jackson & Dr Audrey Low

Wildhoop Productions
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BSBCC welcoming new staff members – Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre

BSBCC welcoming new staff members – Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre

Text by Anna Wade, Photos by Siew Te Wong

For a very long time, the BSBCC team consisted of 4 members of staff. Wong, Wai Pak and 2 keepers, Daniel and David. But since the beginning of this year, we received funds to employ more staff and have since gained a further 5 full time employees. Joining the bear keepers is Beyri, a great new contribution to the team. Since joining the team in the beginning of April, he already has a good working rapport with the bears as well as a wicked sense of humour which makes him a favourite with staff and volunteers a like. In the Office we have Gloria, Dawn and Thye Lim. All have strong environmental and conservation backgrounds and have already proven themselves to be hardworking members of staff. Gloria was the first to join the team in the beginning of April, with Dawn and Thye Lim starting at the beginning of May. Our last and latest new member to the staff is Kadsri, who has been employed as a general worker. This is not the first time he has worked here, as he was part of the construction team that built our new viewing platform. Kadsri is always keen to try his English on any of our volunteers and is always smiling. To celebrate the arrival of our newest members, we held an informal lunch, including volunteers, on our new viewing platform. This gave us all a fantastic view of the bears in the outdoor enclosure, and we could watch from a distance as they slept, engaged in play and climbed trees. After a lovely lunch, Wai and Wong expressed their thanks for all the hard work done by the staff and volunteers alike. After introducing each member of staff, they were presented with a ‘Save the Sun Bears’ T-shirt. The lunch was a great way for all the staff to get together and enjoy each other’s company outside of a working environment! We hope we can do it again very soon!

Makan! Makan! Time to have the lunch at the new observation platform.

Roshan (sun bear student), Wai Pak, and Daniel having a good time serving their lunch.

There is nothing more cool than having your lunch at the same time watching the sun bears having theirs!

One by one, Wong presented our T-shirts to our staff, start with David our bear keeper.

The sun bear team is growing bigger! Wong is no longer alone!!