Baby Bear III

Baby Bear III

Posted by James Whiteman on 12th Apr 2013

It's not just orangutans at The Great Orangutan Project! The facilitators at the Matang Wildlife Centre also have a passion for sun bears, a species just as vulnerable and susceptible to habitat loss. This week's guest blog is from Tasha Beckerson about the care required to rehabilitate an orphaned cub -

"Last month the sun bear affectionately known as Baby Bear III moved house from the quarantine area at Matang Wildlife Centre to the night dens of one of the existing bear enclosures. Though the experience of being neighbours with some full sized sun bears was certainly stressful for her – as an 8 month old cub she should still be in the company of her mother – we quickly found that honey can remedy all stresses in a sun bear's life. They are called 'honey bears' with good reason!

It is often assumed that increasing the enclosure size of a captive animal will be an incredibly positive experience for that animal, and common sense would suggest that if a larger space is available for an animal, it should be moved into it immediately. However, for animals that have known a life of captivity, experiences outside of the regular routine can be very daunting, and transitions into larger areas can be incredibly stressful. Like humans, animals take a lot of comfort from familiarity, of both their surroundings and the daily routine of captive life. Upsetting that routine, if done with care and consideration, can be an enriching event – however, it is often highly stressful.

For young orphans of any species that end up in rescue and rehabilitation centres, they have already experienced an inordinate amount of stress to be in the position that they are. With this in mind, we plan to give Baby Bear III a good few weeks with the run of the night dens of this area before giving her a trial outing in the outdoor enclosure. At the moment we feel it would be a confusing and miserable event for her – to be left in an unfamiliar, large, outdoor space on her own would certainly not be fun –and we are able to provide lots of enrichment and adequate space for her in the caged space. She can also run around and get used to the older bears' smells, and they can get used to hers."

If you would like to volunteer with orangutans and sun bears with Tasha at Matang Wildlife Centre than please find out more here.


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