The demand for bear bile – a highly sought-after ingredient in some forms of Traditional Asian Medicine – has condemned thousands of moon bears and sun bears across Asia to miserable lives in cramped conditions. In addition to this, the bears are often targeted by the exotic pet trade, or forced to live in captivity as objects of human amusement. It’s enough to make an animal lover despair.

However, the many individuals and groups who are fighting on these animals’ behalf give us hope. In 2014, bear bile retailer KiBao Pharmaceuticals announced that it would be researching the potential use of a synthetic alternative. Opposition to the bear bile industry has been steadily growing throughout Asia. Last year, Vietnam declared its intention to phase out bear bile farming by 2020, after a great deal of painstaking advocacy work by Animals Asia. And now, another great organization – The Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre (BSBCC), in Malaysia – has given us a reason to smile, by sharing some adorable photographs of three rescued sun bears playing together.


Two of the bears – named Boboi and Kitud – arrived at the sanctuary after being kept as pets in the village of Singgaron, Ranau District. There, they were confined to a small cage and fed with rice, milk, and fish. Luckily, medical tests revealed that both bears were healthy.

Boboi is a one-year-old male.

Kitud is a fourteen-month-old female.

The two love nothing more than playing together, and when that playtime is interrupted for any reason … well, they’re none too pleased about it!

“Aw no, not another vet visit!”

“Can we go back to playing now?”

“Yeeha! That’s more like it!”



A few months after rescue,  both bears were introduced to Tan-Tan, an eight-year-old female who had already been living at the sanctuary. BSBCC said, “This was a special day for Tan-Tan as it was her first contact with another sun bear after a very long time (spent alone). They discovered a wonderful new friendship. … Tan-Tan seems to become more playful when interacting with Boboi and Kitud. The three sun bear cubs are living together and sharing one large den. All worked out well with the integration and they did not show any signs of aggression.”


Now, the three friends love nothing more than getting up to all kinds of hijinks together!

“Wait for it … wait for it … she’s about to come in…”

“AHA! Gotcha!”

“What was that for?!”

“Do ya like this, do ya?!”

“Don’t mind me, I’ll just sit over here with my incredibly cool green ball…”

“Pfft. I have nothing to be jealous of – I’ve just got me an awesome piece of brown paper.”

“Fiiine, I’ll go do some stretches.”

“Oooh, what’s this?!”

“I don’t know, but these pipes look a whole lot cooler.”

“Look for the simple beeear necessities – the simple bear necessities – Forget abooout your worries and your strife!”




It is absolutely wonderful to see how well these three babies get on and to know that they are being cared for, loved, and respected for who they are. However, as BSBCC said, “The sad reality of each rescued sun bear cub at our centre is that they came from having lived through a bitter past; usually kept or traded by humans and having been separated from their mothers at a very young age. These three little rescued bears are no different. …. Sun bears are in grave danger of extinction in the wild and we need to help them as much as we can. Please spread the message that sun bears belong in the wild and should not be kept as pets, no matter what the circumstances.”

To learn more about the work of BSBCC, visit their website, Facebook page, or Twitter account. You can find out how to help them here. For more information about the threats faced by sun bears, and how you can make a difference, check out some of the posts below:


All image source: The Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre