Borneo’s Best Kept Secret

Date: January 14th 2015

We’re Naomi and Mike – a couple from Singapore who volunteered at the BSBCC for one week. Naomi is 23 and works in conservation while Mike is 24 and works in marketing. We both took some time off to explore Asia and do some volunteering – and our experience with the BSBCC was a highlight. We worked in the bear house and also on the platform talking to visitors.

In the bear house we helped to clean cages, prepare food and create enrichment – and then deliver these to the bears. All these tasks are fun and rewarding (yup, cleaning bear poo is actually good fun – their poo can be multicolored depending on what they eat!) and being in the bear house allows you to get to know all the individual bears – and they do all have unique personalities! We became rather attached to certain individuals (we love Panda!).

We spent two days making this hammock for Sun bear Natalie out of used fire hoses, string, nuts and bolts, and a power drill. Here’s Naomi modeling the hammock with Mike and fellow volunteer Ryan, and staff members Azrry and David. Natalie loved it – and sat, lay and rolled in it when she first saw it.

The center really does do what’s best for the bears – and it was great to see that they’re in such good hands. I’ve never seen animals get as much enrichment as they do here – and the outdoor enclosures the bears have is amazing! We were also lucky enough to hear about their plans to start releasing bears – an incredibly exciting prospect. The BSBCC also works hard to educate the public about conservation and threats facing the bears, and we were so glad to be a part of this by talking to visitors on the platform on our last day.

Working on the platform talking to visitors – with (I think) Debbie high up in the tree behind!

We have volunteered in many countries and with many organizations – but this project is by far one of the best, and we wish we could have worked here for longer. The staff really makes this place as great as it is. They’re such an amazing group of people – so passionate about what they’re doing and eager to share their knowledge and stories with volunteers. We only worked with them for 7 days, but we feel we learnt more from them than we have from any other project – and most other projects have been longer!

We miss this place already, and look forward to hearing all the updates about the bears and hopefully visiting again in the future. Most of the bears here have sad stories – and wild populations are threatened – so the work the BSBCC is doing is really important. We really encourage you to volunteer! It’ll make a difference for them and you’ll gain so much from it. Good luck BSBCC – We know you guys will achieve great things!

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