My Life with Sun Bears

Date: December 20th 2013

Text and Photos by Alla  Shapiro

I voluntered with Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Center for 1 month this winter. My job was animal husbandry. My main duties were preparing and distributing food to the bears, cleaning cages, creating enrichment food toys and cage structures for the bears to be entertained and to excersize their senses, observations of bear habits and reactions in different situations and general cleaning, caretaking, and repairs associated with being a keeper. I found this experience to be very rewarding to get the feel for what it’s like to work in animal husbandry and with an extremely endangered and amazing animal.

At Bear House

I was one of the first two people to be a paying volunteer. It may seem very expensive but it was well worth it. You are paying to be provided with accommodtion  as well as helping to provide BSBCC with desperately needed funds.

I would recommend this to anyone who wants to feel part of something bigger than yourself and to help take a small step in righting the wrongs we have made in creating pollution, destroying habitat, and general abuse of our planet and the animal species who live here. My hope is that it is not to late to keep sun bears and all other endangered animals from becoming extinct due to human related causes. It is our responsibility to respect all living things and our earth which gives us life.

In front of the new entrance of visitor centre.

As a volunteer I feel like I’ve done something important, fun, interesting and different. My background has very little to do with working with animals and this was a great opportunity to not only work with an unusual and endangered animal but also to live and be immersed in another country. I enjoyed most aspects of the job with of course my favorite part being the observations and interactions with the bears.

Sun Bears Photos

Sun Bear’s long tongue!

My teepee enrichment for sun bear.

In summary I would say that I had a very rewarding experience and enjoyed myself immensely. I learned a lot about sun bears, animal husbandry in general and even some Malay language and culture as well as worked with some awesome people.

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