Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre (Borneo)

The Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre (BSBCC) was founded in Sabah, Malaysia in 2008 as a two-stage effort to provide for the care, rehabilitation and release of orphaned and captive Sun Bears, as well as address the lack of knowledge and awareness of this little-known bear both in Malaysia and internationally.

The primary goals of the BSBCC are to promote sun bear conservation in Borneo by creating the capacity to confiscate, rehabilitate and release suitable orphaned and ex-captive bears back into the wild; provide an improved long-term living environment for captive bears that cannot be released; and educate the public by raising awareness about this species; and achieve increased protection for sun bears and their habitat through ongoing research, increased knowledge and awareness, and further protection of habitat.

While Borneo is a remaining stronghold for this species, it is seriously threatened if not extinct in many areas of mainland Asia, including India, Bangladesh, China, Burma and Vietnam.

The Conservation Issue:

Forest Degradation and Destruction
The large-scale deforestation and degradation throughout southeast Asia over the past three decades - clear-cutting for plantation development of palm-oil, unsustainable logging practices, illegal logging both within and outside protected areas - has dramatically reduced suitable habitat for Sun Bears and reduced the habitat quality in the remaining forest. Unfortunately, habitat loss and degradation are pushing this bear to the brink. While the exact number of Sun Bears living in the wild is unkown, scientists estimate it could be as low as only 10,000.

Illegal Hunting
Tragically, Sun Bears are poached for use in foods and traditional Chinese medicines. "Bear Paw Soup" is considered a delicacy in areas of Asia and the bile produced by their gall bladders is believed to be a digestive aid. They are also hunted to prevent damage to crops and villages, and small cubs are captured to become pets. As pets, many are condemned to spend their lives in small, bare cages where some bears cannot even stand up or turn around.

The BSBCC Approach:

Rehabilitation and Release: The BSBCC is building a state-of-the-art facility at Sepilok in Sabah, Malaysian Borneo. Here, rescued Sun Bears will be housed and cared for in a natural setting with the goal to re-release them back into a healthy forest. This innovative project is in partnership with Sabah Wildlife Department, Forestry Department and LEAP (Land, Environment, Animals, People). Currently, twenty-eight confiscated Sun Bears are being rehabilitated by the BSBCC.

Help Eliminate Poaching: By not buying food and medicines made with Sun Bear body parts, the illegal trade will cease to exist, thus eliminating poaching of Sun Bears.

Outreach and Education: Get the word out about the plight of Sun Bears and inspire a sense of pride in preserving this beautiful and charismatic species. Educate the public about the tragedy facing the Sun Bear species. You can also spread the word by blogging and sharing links to the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre online.

Oakland Zoo's Role:

Through our fundraising efforts, our support of the BSBCC helps to fund completion of the much-needed rehabilitation facility in Sabah. Oakland Zoo’s own Maria Trenary, Senior Veterinary Technician, has also travelled to Malaysia to provide hands-on assistance in moving and providing medical care to the Sun Bears currently being rehabilitated by the BSBCC.

How You Can Help:

  • Help Eliminate Poaching: By not buying food and medicines made with Sun Bear body parts, the illegal trade will cease to exist, thus eliminating poaching of Sun Bears.
  • Donate: Email Amy Gotliffe to donate to Oakland Zoo's funding efforts for the BSBCC.
  • Inspire others: share what you have learned about the Sun Bear’s ongoing plight with others by sharing the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre website with others.

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