The Story of the Rescued Sun Bear

The Story of the Rescued Sun Bear

Posted by Sam Hopkins on 17th Apr 2015

It's always great to hear about successful animal rescues from the projects and charity partners with which we are affiliated. However, at times it is heart-breaking. Have a read of the latest rescue from the team at the Matang Wildlife Centre about a recent sun bear rescue:

"At the end of January this year, a distressing and disturbing video was shared via the news and social media channels of a sun bear, obviously suffering from extreme malnutrition and other possible ailments, being frightened away from workers on a palm oil plantation near Sibu in Sarawak. Though a rescue team was sent to the area to try to track this bear down, they were unsuccessful and we assumed the worst - that the bear would starve to death shortly thereafter.

It was therefore a great relief to hear at the end of March that the plantation workers had again sighted the bear, and this time they had managed to catch her. They notified the Sarawak Forestry Commission immediately, who then collected the bear and brought her to us at the Matang Wildlife Centre. The bear was transferred into the quarantine area of the centre, and it is here that she currently resides. The sight of this bear was certainly shocking to say the least – no doubt the worst example of animal suffering that we have seen, and sadly we have seen too many animals kept in deplorable conditions and under immense stress.

We do not yet know if this beautiful animal is a wild sun bear, or an ex-pet that had either escaped or was released by her owners. She is incredibly wary of humans, which is understandable given her known recent history, and at the moment prefers to keep to the platform in the back corner of the cage whenever people are loitering in her area. Her response is definitely due to nerves and fear, rather than aggression, so hopefully as she continues to learn that the only thing we will do to her is feed her, this will diminish and we will be better placed to be able to assess her behaviour.

From hardly being able to move during the first 24 hours, she quickly began to look more like a sun bear and, after a few days, was beginning to explore her new cage. She has already gained strength in her limbs and is able to climb up the tree trunk in the cage, albeit not too gracefully (understandable given the circumstances she has been found in). She has a good appetite, as all bears do, though we are taking care to feed her little and often due to her severely malnourished state. Mushy food is standard too, as her teeth are sadly in a terrible condition. We will certainly be looking to remove the worst of her broken and rotten teeth when she is in a better physical condition to undergo anaesthetic.

For now, we are trying to give her as much peace and quiet, and calories, as possible. We want her to settle in to her new home well, and the sooner she sees us as non-threatening distributors of honey the better! We hope we can show her that humans can be kind and trusted, rather than as creatures to be feared and hated. In our experience, animals have a remarkable and incredibly humbling capacity for forgiveness, once they are shown kindness and care.

Even if we feel she is a wild sun bear in the future, the state of her teeth mean she will not be releasable to the wild again and will live out the rest of her life at Matang, hopefully finding companionship with the other resident bears and some form of peace and contentment. It can take a long time, but that is what we are here for, and the capacity to provide a stress-free sanctuary for animals that are rescued or confiscated is as meaningful for us as our wider conservation objectives. Animals like this bear that have suffered immensely deserve to know a better side of us, and to live out their lives with as much happiness as they are able.

We are quite in awe at the resilience of animals like this and the extent of pain and suffering that they are able to endure and keep on surviving. However it is also, of course, heart-breaking to see an animal go through so much pain. We will of course keep you posted with her progress, but her recovery is likely to take many months indeed. If you have any questions, please visit our Facebook page".

We look forward to hearing about how this beautiful little sun bear gets on - our fingers are crossed for her speedy recovery!


Share this Article...

Share this article with your friends and followers by using the social media buttons below.


Leave a Comment...

Wanting to add something to this story or just let us know your thoughts? Just leave your comments below. Please be aware that all comments will be moderated: abusive behaviour or self-promotion will not be allowed.

500 characters remaining

Has this blog inspired you to volunteer? If so, why not enquire today? Simply fill out an enquiry form, and allow a member of our travel team to assist with your query! Please note that blog comments are not monitored by the travel team, so any questions related to bookings may be missed.


Featured Blog Arcticles


Featured Videos


Experience The Namibia Wildlife Sanctuary

See what you could get up to as a volunteer at the Namibia Wildlife Sanctuary! This volunteer project offers you the chance to get up close and personal with some of the country's most iconic species.

Discover The Great White Shark Project

Come face to face with one of the world’s most misunderstood predators whilst aiding great white shark conservation. As a volunteer, not only will you get the incredible opportunity to dive with sharks, but you will also assist the team in raising awareness of the great white as you work alongside tourists and local school children to provide them with knowledge of the local environment and the importance of living in harmony with South Africa’s marine life.

Volunteers Review Their Experience at the Nyaru Menteng Orangutan Sanctuary

Volunteers talk about their recent experience at the Nyaru Menteng Orangutan Sanctuary in Borneo.

Latest Blog Arcticles


Achievements at the Samboja Lestari Orangutan Project in 2022

Achievements at the Samboja Lestari Orangutan Project in 2022

After 2 difficult years, we finally welcomed volunteers...

Merle’s Orangutan Experience at Samboja

Merle’s Orangutan Experience at Samboja

Merle shares her experiences from her time spent...

An Invasive Species: The Lionfish

An Invasive Species: The Lionfish

Many invasive species have made their way to all corners of...

Sun Bear Update From Samboja Lestari

Sun Bear Update From Samboja Lestari

After a lot of hard work by the June 2022 volunteer group,...

The Latest From The Great Orangutan Project!

The Latest From The Great Orangutan Project!

The Great Projects volunteer coordinator, Jess, is...

An Update from the Samboja Lestari Orangutan Project!

An Update from the Samboja Lestari Orangutan Project!

Samboja Lestari welcomed back volunteers this month, and...

Kathy & Drew's Great Gorilla Experience

Kathy & Drew's Great Gorilla Experience

Kathy and Drew joined The Great Gorilla Project in January...

Raja Ampat Diving Project - Magical Manta Ray Moments!

Raja Ampat Diving Project - Magical Manta Ray Moments!

Manta ray season is at its peak at the Raja Ampat Diving...


Where you can go
Contact Info
UK Office
The Great Traveller Ltd,
3 Dairy Yard
Star Street
Ware, Hertfordshire
SG12 7DX
United Kingdom

Opening hours:
   Mon-Fri 8:30am–5:30pm
   Sat 10am-4pm

T: +44(0) 208 885 4987