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In 2023, we welcomed two male sun bear cubs at our Samboja Lestari Sanctuary. Since their arrival, these two cubs, called Bakar and Coki, have been living together.

Bakar was rescued by the Wildlife Rescue Team of the East Kalimantan BKSDA and then entrusted to Samboja Lestari on March 18, 2023, when he was just 10 days old. He didn’t even have teeth yet. The report stated that he was found, crying alone on a log without a mother, by a worker from a palm oil company in Rantau Pulung. Bakar was cared for by locals for several days before being taken in by the BKSDA. Similarly, Coki was handed over to the BKSDA in Balikpapan by a local resident. Coki arrived at Samboja Lestari on July 10, 2023, and was estimated to be around 4 months old at the time.

During their time together, the two sun bear cubs adapted well in the forest and always played together despite their differences in character. Bakar, who was in human care longer was more dependent on humans and often behaved affectionately towards his caregivers. In contrast, Coki tended to be independent and less reliant on humans. Coki was very agile and enjoyed climbing trees. Usually, Bakar would follow Coki when they played together.

Each day the bear cubs were brought into the forest so they could introduced to natural foods. For example, their caregivers would demonstrate how to find termites in decaying wood. When the weather was particularly hot, they enjoyed spending their time in the small rivers across the forest.

This year, they have turned 1 year old, and they have moved into an enclosure called Backyard B within the Sun Bear Sanctuary. This area is spacious enough for them to roam around, however, these young sun bears still need to learn, by training, to not touch electric fences before they can be moved into larger forested enclosures.

The pair have already fully adjusted to life in the sanctuary. Each day, our technicians begin by distributing food in the enclosure and checking that the electric fence is functioning properly. Next, once all humans are safely outside of the enclosure, the connecting door between the housing complex and the sanctuary is opened. Bakar and Coki will head straight to where the food is located and they begin their usual routine. This includes climbing up to the feeding platform, eating dog food first, then licking honey spread on the pillars, and lastly feeding on the fruits. Due to their close and long relationship, they have never fought or even competed for food!

Text by: Communications Team at Samboja Lestari, East Kalimantan

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