Text and photo by Ng Bee Yin
Gir-de-Gir-de-Gir-de-Gir-de…. Damai was suckling her arm in front of me and looked at me with her piercingly sharp eye. It seems like she was begging me not to leave her. Though I always smile for her cuteness whenever I see her, but this time, her actions penetrated my heart and triggered a sense of sorrow. I told myself, I should say goodbye to every single bear in the bear house today. With grief, I turned to the other side and looked at Fulung. This male bear was scratching his throat after gulping his meal and did not bother to show a single sadness on my very last day! Probably he is a tough guy who repressed his sadness in front of a pretty girl whom had been preparing his food for the past 30 days. Mary, on the other hand, approached me. She sniffed and put out her paw for me to fondle her. I moved backward refusing to do so. I felt very close to these sun bears. I know their names, their room locations, their enclosures, their cuteness, their history, etc.
I was the most creative chef in the bear house! Vegetable ice blocks can also be very delicious to sun bears. Honey corn ice blocks, inspired by ABJ (Ais Batu Jagung). It is troublesome to cut the corns for the juice. The satisfaction is not just from relishing the taste, but also a visualeuphoria of the colorful ice blocks. With colors from sweet potato, watermelon, pineapple, banana, guava, papaya, corns… It is not really hard to create rainbow in the sun bear’s kitchen. I wish to show some of the nice photos of fruits that I had chopped but I couldn’t find any of them. Chopping fruits is not easy especially when doing it alone. It requires a lot of physical strength. There would be a lot of cuts, blisters on fingers because too much of rubbing against the knife handlebar,and also some bruises on legs when one is preparing the food for the bear because the food are heavy to handle. It does indicate why there are only male staffs in the bear house.
I am not very experienced in doing this. Whenever I was cleaning the cage, I feel like calling my maid to do this for me during my volunteering period here. Hahaha! I bet my parents will not believe what I had been doing over here. The stains on the cages had to be cleaned all the time to keep the sun bears healthy.
Dried leaves collection was done together with BSBCC ground staff Azzry, Tommy, Mizuno and David. Precautions need to be taken while collecting the leaves because there were a lot of fire ants. These dried leaves were put into the cages for adding some coziness to the cement floor by keeping it dry and comfortable.Talking about dried leaves, it plays an important role in keeping our bears healthy. In concrete floors, wet floor is a problem, because the bears’ feet are prone to peeling due to hydration. This is exacerbated by the fact that the moist condition is also a breeding ground for infectious fungi and bacteria. Hence, foot problem can be a chronic issue. Furthermore, during hot weather, the heated concrete encourages cracks on foot pads. Besides that, cement floors damages skeletal system, muscle strain, circulatory system, footpad lesions, callus formation and pressure sores. All these can be mitigated by placing dried leaves on the cement floor. I am honored to be part of this sacred job in BSBCC with all the bear house man. I always work with these four guys, though for not a very long time, I get to know some of their habits. Azzry like to say: “Menahan dia…”; Mizuno like to say: “Marah ke? ”, “Rumput” “Pahit! ”, “ Moi… Moi…”. Sometimes I got annoyed because I’m not “marah (angry)” but he kept asking as if I was angry all the time, but later I realized he likes to ask that to most people. I also like to annoy Mizuno by calling him “orang asli (indigenous person) ” just like the way he likes to call me “ah Moi (Chinese girl)” to annoy me. Tommy is the “si lalat (the fly)” which is the name most of the ground staff call him. David likes to tell stories about him when he was a soldier. His conversation always begins with: “Dulu… Masa saya… (Once when I was….)”
A female sun bear with an unusual sleeping gesture. Ah Bui was sleeping with all her limbs widely open, lying comfortably on her favorite spot in enclosure C.
One fine day, around 4pm, Tompong (the orang utan) paid us a visit at the observation platform. Gloria got excited and took several photos with this semi-wild orang utan. Tompong went into enclosure D and took two corns and one sugar cane. I took a photo with her while she was focused with her scrumptious meal. She knows that there is a lot of food in the enclosures and she came again the next day to make a nest at the platform area. She had been visiting the platform 3 days in a row.