If you’re a fan of bears or more specifically, the Sun Bear, you may be happy to know that the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre (BSBCC) has been hosting a virtual on-site tour of its facilities and furry occupants on Tuesday as part of the Sabah Tourism Board’s Enchanting Sabah Live series.
Dr Wong Siew Te, BSBCC founder and CEO, hosted the one-hour virtual tour and took online viewers for a close and personal look at sun bears while feeding them and talking about the species’ background. He also talked about the centre located in Sepilok, Sandakan and answered questions from the live audience.
Since physical tourism has been put to a grinding halt throughout the pandemic, the BSBCC has been offering virtual tours since last May for RM40 to stay afloat and to educate the audience about the race to save the sun bear species. While they are currently only doing about 10 virtual tours, they aim to increase the number to 60 tours monthly. “A virtual tour is a new approach, but it is not as popular as I expected. Nonetheless, we are doing our best to encourage the public to support this initiative,” said the CEO.
The centre has also been asking potential funding agencies to donate funds and encourages the public to take part in its sun bears adoption programme. You can adopt a sun bear cub for RM300 per year or an adult sun bear at RM600 per month or RM7200 per year. Alternatively, you can support the centre by buying their merchandise on their website, Shopee, and Lazada pages.
Last year, the centre brought in three rescued cubs nicknamed Betung, Itam, and Kipaku. They were cared for by local residents all over the state before being rescued by the Sabah Wildlife Department and handed over to BSBCC. Dr Wong added that they have not rescued any bears yet this year but the ongoing rescue mission is considered an essential operation by the wildlife department.
We should point out that the BSBCC is the world’s only sun bear conservation centre. Located next to the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre, the centre is currently housing 43 rescued bears and a newborn female cub named Luna.
The Enchanting Sabah Live series aims to promote various tourist attractions across Sabah and each will be conducted by local industry experts. The virtual tours are scheduled every Tuesday through live sessions on the Instagram and Facebook page of the Sabah Tourism Board.