Meet the sun bears of the Wildlife Rescue Project, Thailand

The sun bears of southeast Asia are classed as a vulnerable species, but there are some good news stories. We caught up with PoD Volunteer to hear about how three of their resident sun bears, Ginger, Ben and Jessia, are getting on at the Wildlife Rescue Centre in Thailand…Bear_Praew

Currently the PoD Wildlife Rescue project in Thailand is home to 28 rescued beers, both the Malayan sun bear and the Asiatic black bear. Almost all bears at the centre were previously kept as pets in private homes and temples, however, a few were also confiscated from the illegal wildlife trade as cubs. Caring for the bears is not easy – they are very destructive, eat a lot, need large enclosures to be without stress, and because of their past as pets (being fed the wrong food) their medical condition needs close attention. Some bears are diabetic or have bad teeth from eating sweets for many years before they arrived at the Wildlife Rescue Centre.

Bear_PindaThe arrival of Ginger, Ben and Jessia

In September 2012, the centre received a call from a temple in Southern Thailand asking for help with some unruly bears. It’s very common in Thailand for people to donate wildlife to temples, even though they are far from ideal locations to keep wild animals, and in many cases medical care and sufficient nutritional food is not available. Thankfully, in this case the abbot had called the Wildlife Rescue Centre for assistance.

On inspection, the enclosures at the temple were not strong enough and two of the bears regularly escaped from the cage, destroying property in the local area. To reduce the threat to the community and improve the welfare of the bears, the abbot had decided that the best decision was to give them up.

 

Life at the Wildlife Rescue CentreBear_Ben

All three rescued bears, named Ginger, Ben and Jessia by the team, moved straight to the large open enclosures at the Wildlife Rescue Centre. This is where the real work (and skill) comes in as the centre tackles the issue of getting the bears to embrace sharing an enclosure!

Jessia is a rather boisterous character and in the first few weeks Ginger was not particularly welcoming towards her over-enthusiastic approach. In the initial introduction – when the gates between the enclosures were opened – Jessia ran straight up to play with Ginger but it was a bit too much and Ginger decided to climb to the top of one of the bear towers, making it clear that Jessia was not allowed to follow her!

Bear_PheemaiOver the weeks, the Wildlife Rescue Centre continued to introduce the bears in small sessions. As time progressed, Ginger became accustomed to the energy that Ben and Jessia both display. The centre continued to separate the bears at feeding time to ensure that competition didn’t emerge, but the centre is happy to report they are now living together very peacefully.

The more relaxed they are, the more their personalities shine through: Jessia and Ginger often play together, but Ben has always remained more distant. Jessia has taken a shine to a particular spot on a concrete tree while Ben very much enjoys searching for food that volunteers hide. Ginger has lost a good amount of weight and hopefully, with the large enclosure and her balanced diet (with less candy!) she will be healthier every day. The three bears all sit together while feeding and share the same climbing trees – it has definitely been a successful integration.

Would you like to join the team and volunteer with PoD at the Wildlife Rescue Centre in Thailand?Cleaning one of the bear pools

  • You’ll be helping to look after over 300 rescued animals including bears, primates, birds, reptiles and other small mammals.
  • Tasks including feeding the animals and cleaning their enclosures
  • You could also be helping construct new enclosures and taking visitors on tours
  • You’ll be working 6 days a week, 6.30am – 5pm but the atmosphere is relaxed and informal, just remember you’ll get more out of it the more effort you put in!
  • The centre is based on temple grounds around 100m south of Bangkok – this peaceful location is by a lake which houses a few ‘gibbon islands’ used to rehabilitate rescued gibbons. It’s 25km from the beaches of Cha Am and Hua Hin.

 

For more information about the project, including dates and prices, visit www.podvolunteer.org/Animals/wildlife-rescue-thailand.html

 

 

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7 of the best…Eco-friendly family days out

Make the most of the summer holidays we have left with some of the UK’s best eco-friendly family days out

Eden Project, CornwallEden Project, Cornwall – Did you know that the huge biomes of the Eden Project house the largest ‘captive’ rainforest? This ever-popular attraction, which aims to run its operations as greenly as possible, is also a hot-house of conservation research. Enjoy the view from the treetops on the new Aerial Walkway, and spot butterflies fluttering amongst the plant life. This summer join some the special family activities including den building, ‘Be the Bee’ interactive trails, art workshops, musical evenings and England’s longest (and fastest) zipwire. Remember to book your tickets online before you visit to save 15% on the entry price. Visit www.edenproject.com.

National Wildflower Centre, Liverpool Five miles from Liverpool city centre is this wildflower haven founded by environmental charity Landlife. This tranquil, family-friendly venue promotes the benefits of planting and maintaining wildflower habitats. There are various free family activities taking place over summer including ‘Mini Beasts and Crafts’ sessions and ‘Wear Your Wellies’ walks. Visit www.nwc.org for more.

The Wildlife TrustsThe Wildlife Trusts’ nature reserves, UK-wide Ancient woodland, coast and beaches, mountains,meadows or marshes, from Southwest England to northern Scotland, there are around 2,300 nature reserves across the UK managed by conservation charity The Wildlife Trusts. Not only do these reserves offer a ‘back to basics’ day out for families (exploring nature doesn’t need to be forced!), but the 47 (mainly) county-based Wildlife Trusts run children’s events throughout the holidays. Join butterfly and bug workshops, nature trails, bat walks or practical conservation sessions. Visit www.wildlifetrusts.org to find your local reserve or visitor centre.

 

The Llama Park, East SussexNew owners Bobby and Susan are dedicated to ensuring their 50 llamas, 20 alpacas, and two reindeer live a stress-free, happy and peaceful life in the 32 acres of beautiful parkland near the Ashdown Forest. There’s no commercialism here, just a lovely chance to meet and learn about these gentle creatures. The park is run with minimal impact on the environment with recycling and low energy use in operation. The cafe serves local produce and some organic options. Visit www.llamapark.co.uk for summer opening times.

 Stockley Farm Park, Cheshire This organic farm is well-equipped for little visitors. The day starts with a tractor ride into the farm, followed by a stop-off at the animal sheds to see pigs, cows, goats and more. Get involved with bottle-feeding lambs and baby goats (kids Рjust not those kids), visit pets corner, watch bird of prey displays, and witness milking time. Take a woodland nature walk, then finish the day sampling the local and organic produce in Willow Barn Tearoom. Visit www.stockleyfarm.co.uk for more details. There are plenty of farms open to visitors around the country Рvisit the National Farm Attractions Network to find one near you.

BeWILDerwood, NorfolkBeWILDerwood, Norfolk – Down by the Norfolk Broads is an award-winning forest of adventure – treehouses, zipwires, jungle bridges, boat trips, storytelling…it’s all here along with some special characters, the real-life setting for children’s book ‘A Boggle at BeWILDerwood’. The adventure park recycles 70% of its waste, has planted 14,000 trees and sells locally-sourced food on site. Recommended for children aged 2-12 years and their family/carers. Visit www.bewilderwood.co.uk for more details.

Cycling in the Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire Take the Family Cycle Trail through the Forest of Dean for fresh air, exercise and wonderful scenery. This 11-mile circular route mainly follows an old railway line with connecting routes to villages and picnic sites. It has been especially surfaced making it suitable for all ages and abilities. Start at the Cannop Cycle Centre – bikes can be hired from Pedalabikeaway. Visit www.forestry.gov.uk for more details.

That’s just a few to get you started! There are hundreds (if not thousands) of fantastic eco-friendly days-out for all the family across the UK. If you have a good recommendation, or review of one we’ve mentioned, let us know…