A bear-y good rescue: Bornean sun bear cub Tenom avoids life as a pet

KOTA KINABALU: A three-month-old sun bear cub named Tenom has avoided a life of being reared as a pet, and is now at the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre (BSBCC) for rehabilitation.

BSBCC founder Dr Wong Siew Te said that the 4kg cub was bought for RM500 from a village in the Beaufort-Sipitang border on May 29.

He said after Tenom was rescued by wildlife rangers, it was surrendered to the Wildlife Department and then transferred to the Lok Kawi Wildlife Park.

“She arrived at the wildlife park on June 2, bright and alert, but with some old scabs on her head and body,” he said when contacted.

Wong said his team of conservationists only transferred Tenom to the BSBCC on Saturday (June 10).

“It was a long journey, but worthwhile for this cub. Tenom is an active and feisty bear. When we first met her, she was already climbing up and down in her cage,” he said.

“She is vocal when unhappy and definitely makes sure she's heard. She has such a loud bark for a small body,” added Wong.

Wong said Tenom was very curious of her new surroundings when she was allowed out of her cage upon arrival at the BSBCC and did not stop climbing and exploring her new enclosure.

He said Tenom did not appear scared or nervous, adding that she enjoyed the dried leaves and furniture that was in the cage.

“Her caretakers seem to be the ones nervous and scared seeing her climbing and hanging upside down,” he said.

At night, they observed her getting comfortable and sleeping on her pile of dried leaves, said Wong.

“Tenom is playful, curious, and full of energy. We are happy that Tenom did not end up being someone's pet at home and living in a tiny cage,” he said.

He said his team will continue to do their best to give Tenom the best “bear experience" and hope that one day, she can be returned to the forest.

“Nevertheless, it is sad to wonder about what happened to Tenom's mother. In an ideal world, Tenom would be living happily with her mum in the forest learning the bare necessities naturally,” said Wong.

He said bear cubs are adorable but they are definitely not meant to be pets, adding that it is illegal to possess a sun bear or any parts of the animal.

He said that the public should report such incidents to the Sabah Wildlife Department for action.

Wong said poaching still exists and remains active in Sabah, and hopes that all offenders are arrested and prosecuted.

On May 12, it was reported that a protected sun bear was shot dead after the animal attacked an elderly man in the Telupid district, some 220km from kota Kinabalu.

The bear was also kept as a pet before it escaped its cage.

“We have been trying to stop this madness in Sabah for the past 15 years. We have used up so much resources, time and effort for rehabilitation and this kind of rescue work should come to an end, but yet, this is still happening,” Wong said.

Towards this end, he thanked Hasanah Foundation and the Sime Darby Foundation for supporting their conservation efforts.

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