PETALING JAYA: Sun bear cubs require specialised “carnivore formula” if their mothers are not with them, says Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre founder Dr Wong Siew Te.
This formula must contain high protein and fat levels to replace its mother’s milk, he said.
“While it (the cub) will love anything sweet, such as chocolate, it is not their natural food,” he told The Star yesterday.
Singer Zarith Sofia Yasin, who kept the cub in her condominium in Desa Pandan, Kuala Lumpur, recently said she had fed it chocolate.
An adult sun bear would typically gorge on wild fruits, honey or invertebrate such as worms and beetles, said Wong.
“Like a human baby, all mammal babies are supposed to be given milk and shelter. They require a lot of care.
“The cub (kept by Zarith) was in an alien environment and will be traumatised,” he said, adding that it was likely that its mother was killed.
He said it would take months to gain the confidence and to bond with cubs that were sent to the conservation centre.
“Bears should not be kept as pets. They belong in the wild, not in a home,” he said.
“They might seem cute as babies but they grow up quickly and can become dangerous.”
Meanwhile, the Department of Wildlife and National Parks Peninsular Malaysia (Perhilitan) director-general Datuk Abdul Kadir Abu Hashim said they had taken Zarith’s statement.
“Our legal adviser will decide whether there will be a charge. If she is charged, they will have to decide under which section,” he said.
The bear, which was rescued on Friday, has been sent to the National Wildlife Rescue Centre in Sungkai, Perak, for quarantine and treatment purposes
The cub, aged about five to seven months, is said to be in good health as he was not found to have sustained any injuries.
Perhilitan’s analysis estimated that there are only about 300 to 500 living sun bears in Malaysia as of 2018.
Sun bear is a protected species under the Wildlife Conservation Enactment 1997.