A visit to the Sun Bear centre leaves you bitterly disappointed in the human race. The organgutans are very human like, and while they are a wild animal if they are taken into captivity early enough, they can be trained and kept as pets with little risk of harm to the owners. No so with Sun Bears. They aren't cute and cuddly like the Orangutans - well actually that's not true - they are delightful, but those claws and teeth mean that the idiots who keep them make sure they are kept in cages when not performing. Even when they are out of the cages, they are collared and handled with violence. Electric shock is a common form of punishment for any action that isn't deemed "cute". Apart from being kept as pets or trained for performing they are also captured and kept alive while having their bile harvested. I'm in tears writing this and its been weeks since I visited the park.
The park is equiped to handle 40 bears and they have 37 at present. 28 they are considered juveniles and 9 adult bears. Their system is very well thought out and their handlers are clearly very knowledgable and amazingly committed, however of the 37 bears they have, they expect to release 3 back into the wild this year. THREE. That's three bears back into an environment that is decreasing by the day. Palm plantations are overtaking forest. Dodgy "sustainably grown" certificates are bought off the authorities and more plantations go ahead. The punishments for being caught keeping or harming the bears can be overcome with bribes and clearly the Government while in principle is working toward animal conservation, is still people, and people can be bought, especially in a society where that is the norm in how to get things done.
Even the release is planned to a T. Its done in secret, no-one but one handler knows where the bear is being released and they don't track them at all. Once they are gone they just hope never to see that bear again. So sad that the risk to these bears is so great that they can't even monitor them for fear that information will be used to find and recapture the bear.
Some of these bears will never leave. You see people come and see the bears and you see them leave with not a further thought about them. While the centre needs the entry fees to help in their costs, it would be great if everyone that visited donated something little extra. Wouldn't have to be much, but anything on top of the entry fee is pure cop and so much can be done with that money. You can see some visitors don't even really care about the bears fate. They treat it like a zoo. Pay / See / Take Photo / Leave. Tick - off the list.
We all need to maintain a much higher level of awareness in how our day to day lives affects things way beyond those things that we see. Knowing that the shampoo you use is decmating an endangered species habitat should be enough, but we have to know. We have to act and we have to act now.
This bear on the right will never leave the refuge. He is just too trained. You see everyone so excited when he sits up and stares at you but he's not doing that naturally, he does it becuase it was beaten badly if he didn't. Every single person that comes close - he performs for. At least he is safe now and hopefully over time will loose the need to perform. Hopefully...
Share this please. If just one person for each of you rethinks their use of Palm Oil or dontates $20 to the cause, it will help. Animals are at our mercy. We are the only ones that can change their lives. I think its important that we do just that.