Sun bears – so named because of the distinctive crescent-shaped patch on their chests, which resembles the rising sun – have traditionally been widespread throughout the forests of Southeast Asia. However, they are currently classified as “vulnerable” by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) because of deforestation and poaching. Many bears sadly languish in tiny cages, victimized by both the bear bile and animal captivity industries.
The Malaysian Friends of the Animals (MFA) has now launched a campaign to help free two “immensely stressed” sun bears who are held captive at the Tawau Hot Springs Recreational Park in Borneo. The bears spend all day pacing back and forth in tiny cages, surrounded by trees they cannot climb, and are kept confined for the amusement of tourists.
“Their treatment is terribly cruel,” said Jennifer Yeap of MFA. “They pace back and forth non-stop in empty confinement in these cages and, as a result, they suffer immense stress. And, like so many other zoos and wildlife-themed places, it’s not about animal preservation – these poor creatures are there to entertain the tourists. The two bears we are very concerned about have been kept at the recreational park since they were infants. Their lives are just miserable, and their diet is shocking. They are fed mostly bananas when their natural diet takes in many more fruits, termites, small mammals, birds, and vegetables.”
When one of their keepers approaches with a hose pipe and aims it into the bears’ mouth, they try to gulp down as much of it as they can. This is the only form of hydration the bears receive.
The bears have no way of exercising their natural instincts.
MFA believes the fact that they are surrounded by dense, lush foliage that they would normally seek to climb makes their imprisonment all the more torturous.
MFA has teamed up with another conservation group, Friends of the Orangutans, to try and persuade authorities to release the bears from their miserable living conditions.
They want to see the suffering animals rehoused to a sanctuary environment where they can enjoy climbing trees and eat a more varied diet.
Upreshpal Singh, director of Friends of the Orangutans, said that he had personally witnessed the bears pacing up and down in their cages, a clear example of stress-induced zoochotic behavior: “Keeping them in such a manner causes physical and mental distress. Concerned people like myself want to see these bears displaying their wild instincts, happy, free of stress, fear, and pain.”
You can help strengthen the campaign by making a donation to Friends of the Orangutans today, or by keeping up to date with MFA’s work on their Facebook page. Let’s hope these organizations manage to set these two bears free from their misery soon and bring them to a better place!
All Image Source: Daily Mail UK