Meet the sunbears

Our second working day started with a solar eclipse. Besides the fact that it was cool to see, it also highlighted a great group spirit. We had 2 eclipse glasses for 11 people and it worked beautifully.
After this special event four of us were on sunbear duty.
imageWe had to saw bamboo to make some enrichment to keep the bears entertained. The size of the bamboo is enormous which turns the sawing into a proper workout. We smeared peanut butter and jam in some of the tubes and drilled holes in the others, where peanuts and seeds can be put in. While Felix and Dan did the drilling and most of the sawing, Cosy and I had the glamorous job of collecting rotten fruit leftovers from the sunbear enclosure. Luckily the keepers made sure that all of the bears were in their cages and not hiding behind a bush.
After we had cleaned up, we started to scatter fresh fruit for the bears to enjoy. We were trying to hide them and put them high up in trees to make it more challenging for the bears to find them. As soon as we had left the enclosure the bears came out and it was lovely to watch them get to the fruit and have their breakfast.
But there was not too much time to enjoy the view, since we had to hand out the peanut butter and jam enrichment to the bears.
They loved it!!! They have really long tongs and had no problem what so ever to get out the last bit of sweetness.
And to finish off our pre-lunch shift we started to build a hammock out of a water hose which was donated by the fire station. We didn’t quite manage to finish it, but the second group would do this after lunch.image

Some facts about the sun bears: They can be found in tropical forests of Southeast Asia and are sadly classified as vulnerable. They don’t really have any predators other than a clouded leopard (which is rather rare too), but the habitat loss through deforestation is a real problem. They inhabit the same areas as the orangutans, which works out nicely, since they are mainly on the ground (even though they are good climbers) while the orangutans are high up in the trees. They are the smallest bear, but there claws are so impressive that you should not underestimate them.

The sanctuary does not have a sunbear release programme, and it looks like most of the bears would not really be releasable anyways. Most of them were caught and sold as pets and the owners either didn’t want or just couldn’t handle them anymore. To survive in the wild, the bears would need to be really vicious, which isn’t the case. In fact, some are so tame that Patrick actually can play with them, because they know him well.

Posted in Animals, Conservation, Samboja Lestari.