This week is all about sun bears. Not only Ucok, the orphaned sun bear our partners are helping care for in Sumatra, but also a bit more about sun bears as a species too. We keep talking about these lovely little creatures that can be found all across Southeast Asia, but now it’s time to really get to know these elusive creatures.
We’ve seen a lot of this pretty little bear cub over the last few months, and we’ve been seeing him steadily growing, and indeed out-growing his enclosure, but when he came to BKSDA (that’s the Nature Conservation Agency of Indonesia), having been seized from the illegal wildlife trade, he weighed just 3.1kg. As a cub of approximately 3 months old at the time, he should have still been feeding on his mother’s milk for another month or so, but ultimately spending another 2 years under his mother’s guidance.
Unfortunately sun bears, like other bears in Asia are poached for their gallbladder and other body parts for ‘medical uses’ although it has been proven to have no medical value at all. More recently, as a ‘cure’ for COVID-19, again, with absolutely no scientific value. Poaching, and the illegal pet trade, along with habitat destruction has led to the classification of sun bears as a species as vulnerable.
Nursing female sun bears will often be killed and their cubs sold into the pet trade, as happened with Ucok, so BKSDA’s vets had the dilemma of how to feed this poor little baby. Their solution, at least until he had grown a bit, was porridge and goats milk, and he grew well on it, weighing in at 5kg by the beginning of March. An adult sun bear will grow to between 35 – 80kg!
As he grows, his diet will change. Sun bears eat a diet of fruits, berries, roots, insects, small birds, rodents, lizards and honey, and already at 8 months old Ucok is learning to enjoy solid foods.
The vets at the BKSDA Wildlife Rescue Center TWA Sibolangit have been doing a great job trying to teach Ucok normal behaviours, however sun bears are nocturnal animals and need to be taught to hunt and be wild by their mums. In the wild they would spend the first 2 years of their life learning from their mother and unlike Borneo which has dedicated sun bear rescue and rehab centres, the BKSDA in Sumatra has none.
So while his return to the wild looks uncertain for the moment, ISCP, our partners in Indonesia are doing what they can for this inquisitive and mischievous little bear, who may well live for another 24years.
Our aim is to help ISCP continue to support BKSDA in Ucok’s welfare, like this recent food donation. What better for a growing sun bear than lovely fresh fruit!!!
Our #GivingTuesdayNow Campaign is still running, and even the smallest donation will mean the world at the receiving end, so take the opportunity now to follow the link below..
and Help DAD Crush COVID!
-Tod and Piggy, Presidents, Darwin Animal Doctors
Weekly Piggy Update:
“On Thursday last week Piggy had surgery to remove three masses, samples of which have been sent to the lab. We’ve all got our fingers crossed that they’ve removed a large enough margin for the masses to be gone forever.
He had a drain in his side for a few days so has been rocking his t-shirt look! The drain is now out, but he is scheduled to begin non-intrusive pill-form chemo.
Despite everything, he’s still smiling and loving every moment of life. He’s still getting all his outdoor time, lots of walkies in his wagon and support and love from all. The vets working with him have been fantastic despite the heavy pressures they are under at the moment. Thank you to everyone for their support!”