Kipaku, Forest Doctor

 Day 153: Agenda of the day – Be a “Forest Doctor”!

The feeding ecology of the sun bear is “opportunistic omnivorous”. Little Kipaku act as a “Forest Doctor” that helps control the forest pests such as termites. He keeps busy by digging and tearing dead log in search of yummy termites. He has an exceptionally superb long tongue which is used for extracting termites!

Today, Kipaku turns 10 months old and weighs 19.50kg. 

Sun Bear Rehabilitation | Playful Little Betung | BSBCC

Video by Chiew Lin May

Day 108: It is beginning to look a lot like Christmas 🎅 

"Dear Santa, I love having a little cozy forest filled with branches, honey bees, tall trees, and termites! I am so excited for Christmas!” – Little Betung

It is going to be her first Christmas!

Betung – It is amazing to see how far she has come!

 Text & Photos by Chiew Lin May

Wildlife traffickers are breaking away at the dwindling populations of Sun bears that have pushed these smallest bears to the brink of extinction. Keeping a sun bear as a pet is illegal in Malaysia. Little Betung is one of the victims of illegal pet possession. She was rescued at the age of 5 months old. She had been found by a villager’s dog in an orchard at Kampung Betung, Ranau district in April 2020 and was kept in a tiny chicken mesh cage – in unfamiliar surroundings with no one to comfort her. She would have spent the rest of her life behind metal bars. During the rescue, she had severe malnutrition, was growth stunted, weak, and had a skin problem. She weighed just 1.4kg.

Thanks to the Wildlife Rescue Unit of Sabah Wildlife Department, Betung was saved and brought to a new home at BSBCC. Such a young cub needs special attention since she survives the trauma of being snatched from her mother. We did not give up and knew that a miracle will come to bring this bear back to being a healthy bear. Her appetite has come roaring back as well. Her balanced diet consists of a combination of milk, fruits, vegetables and vitamins. With her nutritious diet, she not only gains weight, her hair is also starting to grow! She now weighs 7.45kg. The chart below shows the growth curve of Betung as a cub (updated 01 December 2020). A real reward, slowly she began to make good progress and a steady recovery. She grows sweeter every day and is becoming more energetic and active.

On September 5th 2020, she is relearning to be a wild bear – getting a second chance at life! 

She lacks the skills to survive in the forest because she was separated from her mother when she was far too young. During the ‘walk bear cub’, her surrogate mother will guide Betung during the development stages and teach her how to survive in the wild. Betung learns how to do and practice every day.

Betung now lives a free and happy life like she would have had in the wild. 3 months later, she has made excellent progress in the forest. Little Betung will use her strong claws to dig into soil to search for tasty snacks such as the trace elements or decayed logs in search of termites. She has plenty of opportunities to forage naturally. She is always enthusiastic about exploring new things around the forest and will lead us the way through her favourite trees! She is picking out some favourite spots. She shows to us she is an arboreal bear! She loves climbing tall trees and travelling through the lianas. She finds the bigger trees to hug! This will help strengthen her muscles. She looks incredibly excited. She is perfectly suited to life in the forest! Sometimes she will be cheeky towards her surrogate mothers. She loves blind play fighting, running or rolling about on the forest floor! She keeps up her adventurous and playful behaviour.

We will let the photos speak for themselves!

Throughout her life, Betung has only known a world of trauma. Love and patient care has given Little Betung the confidence and bravery she needs. The round-the-clock care will help her to survive from the trauma she has been through. She has realised she is safe and no one can hurt her again. The transformation we have seen in Little Betung has been simply amazing! Go Betung Go!

It will be a long road to recovery and she is slowly putting her past behind her. We all need to do everything we can to keep them safe. ​Little Betung can be adopted here: https://www.bsbcc.org.my/share-bear-adoption-thanksgiving-and-christmas-special-promotion.html

Sunbearo, the Orphaned Sun Bear

Video by Chiew Lin May

No doubt, he has been taken from his mother to be illegally displayed at Mini Zoo and spend his life in captivity. The trauma these little ones go through is heartbreaking to see. After 6 years of the rehabilitation process, it is amazing to see Sunbearo develop the vital survival skills necessary for life in the forest. He now ready to live a life of freedom that he truly deserves!

Due to the pandemic, Sunbearo and his friends had been rescheduled to be released back into the wild next year. But with your support, our ultimate goal to return them to their forest home keeps it going. You can help return them to safe forests, where they should belong. For them, everything is about to change. Sunbearo needs YOU! Please donate today to support the bear release programme:

Accounts Name: Sun Bear Conservation Berhad
Bank's Name : Public Bank Berhad
Account No. : 3195054919
Bank's Address : Lots 149, 150, 151, & 152, Block 15A, Phase II, Prima Square, Mile 4, Jalan Utara, 90000 Sandakan, Sabah, Malaysia.
Contact number: +6089 202288 or +6016 5551256 (Dr. Wong Siew Te)

Click here to learn more about the smallest bear - http://www.bsbcc.org.my

Find us: Website: https://www.bsbcc.org.my/
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Background music: https://youtu.be/aeSOVhSZhxc

To Know More About the Least Known Bear Species – the Sun Bear

 Text & Photos by Seng Yen Wah

There are eight bear species in this world and the sun bears are the smallest bear. Sun bears are named as the sun bear because they have the chest patch in the colour range of cream and orange which looks like the rising sun. Every bear has a unique chest mark. This is the best way of identifying an individual bear. This is because no two bears share the same chest mark pattern even when they are a twins. 

Although sun bears are the smallest bear, they have the longest tongue. Their tongue can be 25 to 30cm long! The long tongue is an adaptation for licking honey and eating termites and ants. Other than invertebrates and honey, they are also eating a large variety of fruit species, especially figs. This is because fig trees produce fruit all year long. Therefore, sun bears are considered as the opportunistic omnivores. As the food is available all year round, sun bears are the only bears that do not hibernate. 

Sun bears can be found throughout South East Asia. There are two subspecies of sun bears which are Malayan sun bears and Bornean sun bears. Malayan sun bears are found on the Asian Mainland and in Sumatra while Bornean sun bears are only found in Borneo. The difference between the Malayan sun bears and Bornean sun bears is their size. Malayan sun bears are bigger than the Bornean sun bears. 

Sun bears are a forest-dependent species. Their large, sickle-shaped (curved) claws are important tools for them because they can spend most daylight hours foraging, digging and climbing. Sun bears are the arboreal animal. They are the excellent climbers. They often take naps on the tree. Sun bears climb trees in the wild to not only find fruits and look for honeybees but also to avoid predators such as pythons. I wonder if you know that sun bears can build a nest? It can be a tree nest or a ground nest. Sometimes people are confused between an orangutan’s nest and a sun bear’s nest. They look alike but sun bear’s nest look messier. Mostly they use the tree leaves and tree branches to build up the nest. They can spend a few days building a nest. However, not every bear has the ability to build a nest. Therefore, they will borrow other bear’s nests. People say sharing is caring and sun bears as well!

Sun bears not only spend time in the trees but also spend time on the forest floors. They are more likely to dig for snacks such as termites, ants, pill millipede and others. Or else, they are foraging for fruit in the forest. They grip on the tree bark or rip apart the decayed wood for getting yummy, crunchy snacks. The different types of invertebrates are the important protein source for them.

​Sun bears are having outstanding sense of smell and excellent hearing. Among all the senses, the bear's eyesight is considered as not good. They are near-sighted but they can detect form and movement at a long distance. They depend on their senses to be alert to their surroundings. This is their wild instinct to protect and defend themselves. 

"Each species is a masterpiece, a creation assembled with extreme care and genius." - Edward O. Wilson.

Sun bear is the least known bear species. Therefore, they need your attention for saving them from extinction.