Saving Sun Bears

Adult sun bears are poached for body parts which are thought to have medicinal properties. Orphaned cubs are kept illegally as pets. Natural habitat is disappearing fast. 

Wong Siew Te Holding Savings Sun Bears Book By Sarah Pye

Dr Wong Siew Te

In this inspirational story, Malaysian ecologist Dr Wong Siew Te, or ‘papa bear’, tries to save the ‘forgotten bear’ from extinction. His quest takes him around the world, and in 2017 he is acknowledged as a CNN Wildlife Hero—proving one person can make a difference.

Australian author Dr Sarah Pye takes readers on a journey of discovery, introducing individual sun bears she has come to know: Natalie, who learns to survive without her mother; Bongkud, who is struck by lightning; Gutuk, who is too scared to go outside; and Debbie, who grabs her chance at freedom.

Saving Sun Bears is Wong’s story—and theirs.

What People Say About Saving Sun Bears

Chris Morgan Saving Sun Bears

Chris Morgan

Documentary Filmaker, UPROAR

When I first met Wong during filming of BEARTREK, I was so moved by his love for sun bears and their future... it went way beyond science. Now I’m proud to call him a friend and so happy that Sarah has captured his life in the words of this beautiful book. Be prepared to laugh and cry as you read his story and be prepared to fall for Wong as everyone who crosses his path does. 

I was immensely privileged to meet Dr Wong and film the release of three sun bears back into the wild. Wong is an incredibly committed and charismatic man, and I highly recommend this inspirational story about his life and important work.


Dame Judi Dench Saving Sun Bears

Dame Judi Dench

Actor and Activist

Choose the Best Format for You

Do you love flicking through sandy pages at the beach? Do you like the feel of a hard cover and jacket? Perhaps you prefer carrying an entire library on your device? Or maybe you multitask by listening on your commute.

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But Wait...There's More! 

Come and check out the World of Wildlife monthly online meeting ...that's right, there's a whole international tribe you can talk to!

Saving Sun Bears Club

Meet Wong and Sarah in the free monthly World of Wildlife Online Club and become part of the solution, not the problem. This global community gathering runs on the 10th of every month at alternating times.

Use the calendar below to choose your meeting.

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What is Saving Sun Bears About?

Saving Sun Bears is about the story of Dr Wong Siew Te and his lifetime dedication to saving the smallest bear species on earth from the ravages of deforestation, human poaching and the illegal pet trade. It follows Wong's journey from his own days as a researcher and how he fell in love with Sun Bears, right up to his creating the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre (BSBCC) and the on-going work to rehabilitate bears and to release them back into the wild.

Where Have I Heard About Dr Wong Before?

When Dr Wong started studying sun bears in the 1990s, there were only two other sun bear researchers in the world. There is no-one on earth who knows more about sun bears than he does. Wong was featured in the documentary film BEARTREK. He was named a Malaysia Hero by his government, and named a CNN World Wildlife Hero in 2017.

How Can I Visit Wong at BSBCC?

The Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre is located in Sepilok, Sabah, Malaysia. It is next door to the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre. Sandakan airport is 30 minutes’ drive away, with regular short flights to the state capital of Kota Kinabalu. Dr Sarah will be leading a tour of Sabah as soon as possible. Contact Sarah at to express your interest.

How Did You Get Dame Judi Dench to Review Saving Sun Bears?

In 2018, Sarah joined Wong to release two rescued bears back into the wild. The heartwarming experience is recounted in the last chapter of Saving Sun Bears. Two years later, Dame Judi Dench joined Wong to release two more. Footage of release was included in a documentary called Dame Judi Dench’s Wild Borneo Adventure. Because they had shared the same life-changing experience, Dame Judi was happy to endorse Saving Sun Bears.

How Long Did it Take to Write Saving Sun Bears?

Sarah wrote Saving Sun Bears as half of her Doctor of Creative Arts Degree. The other part was a thesis about the power of narratives to engage non-scientists in conservation. Her degree took four years to complete, and the book was published soon after.

Are Sun Bears Endangered?

Sun bears are listed as vulnerable on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. There are thought to be far less sun bears than orangutans, which are listed as critically endangered. Unfortunately, we know far less about sun bears, and we need more data. Scientists estimate that the species will be extinct in the wild within 30 years if we don’t take action.