There's nothing cuter than a sun bear cub.
2021 was a very exciting year at the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre. On May 20th, rescued sun bear Bintang unexpectedly gave birth to a scrawny infant with eyes glued shut and skin hanging in wrinkly folds.
This was the first ever captive birth at the Centre, and it certainly wasn’t planned.
Bintang and Baby Luna
Sun Bears are in Danger
Dr Wong Siew Te, the founder and director of BSBCC (and the hero of the Wildlife Wong series and Saving Sun Bears), was excited and anxious.
He and his team had never cared for a mother and cub before. To the contrary, most young cubs that arrive at the Centre are orphans.
Their mothers have been killed by poachers (Just like Damai's mother) in search of the lucrative gall bladder which is used in Chinese medicine.
A Unique Chance to Observe
Bintang was an industrious mother, constantly grooming her prize and never letting her out of reach.
Wong and his team however diligently observed and recorded the interaction between mother and offspring, delighting in watching such a rare occurrence.
Will the Sun Bear Cub Make it?
Their sense of wonder lasted a week. On day eight, the cub’s suckling reflex was weak, and they suspected her health was declining.
Therefore, Wong made the difficult decision to remove the youngster from her mother for an examination. Even though he knew all too well that Bintang may not accept her baby back.
That decision had been made just in time: the cub weighed just over 3.5kg and was suffering from hyperthermia. She had also lost the outside of her ears from overgrooming.
The Cub is Optimistically Given a Name
BSBCC's dedicated team went into hyperdrive. Despite being short-staffed due to COVID-19, they organised into teams to feed the cub, (now named Luna), through the night in the hope they could save her life.
In the end, their persistence was rewarded. After two months, little Luna started crawling. She was definitely a fighter!
Luna Learns to Climb
As soon as appropriate, Wong and his team introduced Luna to the rainforest and started to teach her bear skills such as climbing and digging for termites.
Luna was a fast learner and Wong thinks there is a possibility she might be able to be released in the wild one day.
If so, she will be the first sun bear Wong has ever released who was born in captivity.