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!